Lee Moves Inland; Blamed For 3 Deaths

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MCCOMB, Miss., Sept. 5 (UPI) — The storm once called Tropical Storm Lee moved inland Monday after flooding parts of the Gulf Coast and being blamed for three deaths in Texas, officials said.

The storm, with sustained winds of about 34 mph, was moving on a northeasterly track at about 7 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in a 5 a.m. EDT advisory.

Sheriff’s department officials said a mother and her 18-month-old child were killed Sunday near Gladewater in eastern Texas when a wildfire stoked by the storm overtook their mobile home, CNN reported.

The sheriff’s office said fires in Gladewater and Kilgore re-ignited overnight.

A body surfer drowned in Galveston, but authorities didn’t say the death was directly attributable to the storm.

Lee weakened to a tropical depression Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said, but not before dumping rain and causing extensive flooding in Gulf Coast states. The storm was expected to move over southern Mississippi Monday, weather officials said.

Even though the winds died down and Lee was downgraded to a tropical depression, the storm and its rain-producing potential posed a threat as it moved northeast toward the Appalachian Mountains. The National Hurricane Center said up to 20 inches of rain could fall in spots through Monday.

Heavy rains were expected to spread into the Tennessee Valley, from northeast Mississippi into Tennessee, and the southern Appalachian Mountains into Tuesday, with rainfall of 4-8 inches forecast, the National Hurricane Center reported.

Tornadoes were possible Monday in sections of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia, the center said.

Officials in Louisiana and Mississippi reported parts of their states were flooded. Utilities also reported pockets of power outages.

The levees held and New Orleans was “100% operational” with about 200 utility customers without power, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Sunday, adding the storm dumped 10 to 13 inches of rain on the city and carried wind gusts of up to 50 mph.

The storm prompted a temporary shutdown of more than 60 percent of Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production Sunday.

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