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Tropical storm batters Florida coastline

Tropical Storm Debby pounded the Florida coastline Monday, with persistent rain and violent winds causing flooding and keeping the maritime community alert.

As of Tuesday morning, the storm was about 85 miles west of Cedar Key, Fla., producing maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and moving east at 3 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The Coast Guard was urging the maritime community to track Debby’s progress and take early action to protect themselves and their vessels. Tropical storm warnings were in effect for parts of Florida as the storm has stalled off the Gulf Coast.

The storm has not been severe, but it has been relentless, Sam Chavers, the harbormaster for Marina Jack on Sarasota Bay, told Soundings on Monday. "Debby has been hanging around for three days now," he said. "I don't think anyone thought we were going to get this much rain."

Chavers said a few boats have suffered minimal damage in the mooring field, but otherwise no severe impact to boats and docks has occurred.

Several boats had broken from their moorings on Sarasota Bay, including a 40-foot pilothouse cruiser and a 25-foot sailboat. Water had risen above the docks of Mote Marine Aquarium's waterfront facility. A few boats had been blown off their trailers at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron on City Island.

The deluge of rain and high winds from Tropical Storm Debby shut down Manatee bridges to boaters on Monday, closed the Skyway Bridge indefinitely and downed trees everywhere.

Numerous sailboats were ripped from their moorings and driven by winds and water into the Bradenton Beach Pier and Cortez Bridge.

"They're jammed up against the pier, next to it and under it," said Sam Speciale, police chief at Bradenton Beach told the Bradenton Herald.

— Chris Landry