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GORDON MOVES INLAND, DROPS TO DEPRESSION

Tropical Storm Gordon fizzled early today as it headed through Georgia toward the Carolinas after swamping coastal roads and flooding homes in northwest and central Florida.

Gordon, a hurricane for much of Sunday as it hurtled across the Gulf of Mexico toward Florida, already had lost steam when its eye crossed the coast at Cedar Key in the "Big Bend" area, where 280,000 people were ordered to evacuate.

It weakened further as it passed over land and was downgraded today to a tropical depression, with maximum winds of 35 mph.

Tropical storm warnings were lifted for the Atlantic coasts of north Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

An estimated 4 inches of rain per hour fell around Georgetown, S.C., the National Weather Service said, posting flood warnings.

Heavy rain fell around Valdosta, Ga., and into central Georgia.

Gordon hit Florida's west coast Sunday evening, bringing down power lines, uprooting trees and spawning several tornadoes. Forty homes were flooded in Hillsborough County on Tampa Bay, the Florida state emergency center said.

"There have been no deaths, but there has been some flooding," said center spokeswoman Anne Rowe.

Gordon lashed Florida with 70 mph winds and up to 10 inches of rain in some areas.

State emergency managers said flooding was reported in low-lying coastal areas from Fort Myers to Cedar Key, about 100 miles north of Tampa, where the eye went ashore at about 8 p.m. Sunday.

The storm knocked out electricity to much of the city, but most residents had power restored by midnight. At the height of the storm, about 120,000 power customers were without electricity, mostly around Tampa.

In southwest Florida's Lee County, a possible tornado damaged 10 to 15 homes and an apartment building in Sanibel, causing about $1 million in damage. A second twister in the county damaged five homes north of Fort Myers.

Another tornado caused roof damage Sunday in a Broward County mobile home park, and a fourth caused no damage in Palm Beach County.

State officials reported about 750 people were in shelters around the state, dozens of flights were canceled at Tampa International Airport, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball game with the Oakland A's was called off.

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