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Go Away Fay: Storm hits Fla. for 4th day
Tropical Weather Fa 5539214
National Guard from Cocoa check on residents Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008 as they help evacuate the flooded streets in the Lamplighter Village of Melbourne, Fla. after Tropical Storm Fay dropped record rains on Brevard County. - photo by Associated Press
    MELBOURNE, Fla. — For a fourth weary day, Tropical Storm Fay continued its soggy march through Florida Thursday, forcing dozens more residents to flee floodwaters and even driving alligators and snakes out of their habitats and into streets.
    Residents were beginning to get tired of Fay, which has made landfall in the state three times this week. Flooding was especially acute along the Atlantic coast from Port St. Lucie to Cape Canaveral, with water reaching depths of 5 feet in some neighborhoods.
    ‘‘This is the worst I’ve absolutely ever seen it,’’ said Mike White, 57, after he was rescued by the National Guard from floodwaters lapping at the doorstep of his mobile home.
    The erratic and stubborn storm has dumped more than two feet of rain along parts of Florida’s low-lying central Atlantic coast. It is just the fourth storm in history to make landfall as a tropical storm three times, the last in 1960. Before it eases across the Panhandle by the weekend, it could bring buckets more.
    If the water itself wasn’t enough, people in flooded parts of the area known as the Space Coast were warned to keep watch for alligators, snakes and other wildlife forced from their habitats and swimming in search of dry land. At least two alligators were captured in residential neighborhoods and several others spotted.
    Florida National Guardsman Steve Johnson, 45, said he was wading through hip-deep water Wednesday night with a flashlight when an alligator drifted by.
    ‘‘I said ’What the heck is that?’ and there was an alligator floating by,’’ Johnson said Thursday. ‘‘I took my flashlight and was like, ’You’ve got to be kidding me, a big old alligator swimming around here.’’’
    In Carla Viotto’s backyard in Indialantic, located outside of Melbourne, snakes were swimming around in 4 inches of water amid a pair of empty 5-gallon water jugs.
    ‘‘It looked just like a junk yard,’’ she said Thursday.
    Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who visited the area Thursday, has already asked the Bush administration to declare a federal disaster in the region to help with the storm’s costs.
    ‘‘This storm is going to be with us for a while,’’ Crist said at a news conference.
    The outer bands of Fay continued to pour sporadic rains Thursday along the 100-mile Georgia coast, with some areas reporting winds of 20 to 30 mph. The National Weather Service said southern Georgia could see some flooding from 5 to 10 inches of rain across southern Georgia as the storm moved west through northern Florida.
    Mary Neff watched the rain come and go for a second straight day Thursday in coastal St. Marys, Ga., two blocks from the downtown waterfront at the Spencer House Inn, which she owns with her husband.
    ‘‘We’re kind of just waiting,’’ Mary Neff said Thursday afternoon. ‘‘It needs to come and get gone so we can get back to what we were doing.’’
    At 2 p.m. EDT, the storm began slugglishly moving west at about 2 mph, still with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. The storm’s center was located almost directly above Flagler Beach, south of St. Augustine. It was expected to move northwest bringing heavy rains to northern Florida and southern Georgia.
    No deaths have been reported in Florida because of Fay, which is responsible for at least 20 deaths when it passed through the Caribbean.
    With the rain deluge passing to the north, the sun began to dry out some Florida neighborhoods hit by floods earlier in the week. The mood was considerably brighter for many residents who were finally able to get out of their homes.
    ‘‘I’m ready to get back to work. This is insane. It’ll drive you nuts being stuck like this,’’ said Barry Johnson, 44, of Port St. Lucie.
    ———
    Associated Press writers Ron Word reported from Jacksonville; Lisa Orkin Emmanuel, Curt Anderson and David Fischer reported from Miami; Bill Kaczor reported from Tallahassee; Russ Bynum reported from Savannah, Ga.; and Brendan Farrington reported from St. Augustine.

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