Beryl gives Hernando much-needed soak

The beads of rain from Tropical Storm Beryl kept coming Monday and Tuesday, but emergency calls were at a minimum across Hernando County.

And while Memorial Day weekend was cut short for some people, there was optimism the rainfall would provide some long-awaited drought relief.

“Basically, we’re seeing some improvement from this,” said Paul Close, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Ruskin. “The whole event has brought in a lot of rain.”

A flood warning remained in effect until late Tuesday afternoon as the last band of rain clouds – expected to bring another 2 to 3 inches – cascaded over the southern portion of the Nature Coast.

Some areas of northern Hernando got as much as 6 to 8 inches of rain, Close said.

About 3,000 customers with Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative were without power early Tuesday.

Another 250 customers with Progress Energy lost power during the second wave of rain that same afternoon. Most of the Progress Energy homes without power Tuesday were along the U.S. 98 corridor near Lake Lindsey, said company spokeswoman Suzanne Grant.

“We knew the possibility of this happening with all of the rain in the forecast,” she said. “We had extra crews standing by ready to respond.”

The low-lying areas of the county – from Ridge Manor to Pine Island – had some standing water.

Pine Island Drive was flooded Tuesday morning, but that was “not unexpected,” said Cecilia Patella, director of Hernando County Emergency Management.

At least one vessel – a 14-foot airboat along a Pine Island canal – was submerged by the rising waters. No injuries were reported.

Some typical low-lying areas, particularly along the east side of the county near the Withlacoochee River, did not flood because of the existing draught conditions.

“The river has been so dry there was plenty of room for rain,” Patella said.

Some trees fell over during the overnight storms, but everything was cleared by Tuesday morning.

“There was a little bit of street flooding, but no big complaints were called in,” said Lt. Michael Burzumato, a spokesman for the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

Beryl, which was downgraded to a tropical depression as of Tuesday, dumped large amounts of rain across northern Florida and southern Georgia. Some areas, including Jacksonville, received up to 10 inches of rain, according to weather reports.

Photograph Fred Bellet contributed to this report. [email protected] (352) 544-5283

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