(NECN/NBC News: Jay Gray) - Tropical storm Debby continues to make a slow but powerful march toward the Gulf Coast. Conditions are deteriorating in several areas where heavy rain is causing severe flooding. The storm is likely still days away from landfall.
The wind has intensified, but it's the rain that's defined Debby to this point.
A driving rain -- as much as five inches an hour in some of the hardest hit areas.
Rivers are spilling over their banks and water has swallowed countless roadways.
That water is now threatening homes, businesses, and even a church in Apalachicola.
"We've been pumping for six hours, hoping to get ahead of the storm surge," said Pastor Themo Patriotis.
But in some places the race with Mother Nature has already been lost.
"Thank god it didn't happen when we were here. It's still emotional," said homeowner Amber Addario.
Emotions stretched to their limits in Venus, Fla., where a young mom died protecting her little girl from debris during a tornado.
Forecasters say at least 20 tornadoes have been spawned as a result of the storm system, and there's a chance of more before it's all over.
High winds have knocked out electricity for at least 35,000 residents, and even as crews work to restore the power, they must still to deal with all of the water. Understanding that, in many areas, more is on the way.
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