Evacuations ordered; Coast Guard recovers boat belonging to two missing Florida teens
Evacuations were ordered for residents in Pasco County, Florida, threatened by the rising Anclote River, as severe storms slammed Florida.
Residents of the Anclote River Estates neighborhood and elsewhere in the Elfers area were ordered to evacuate when authorities released an evacuation map Sunday, WTSP-TV. Homes in the area were threatened by recent flooding, and he Red Cross established an evacuation center for those affected at First Presbyterian Church of Port Richey.
Emergency Management Center director Anette Doying told Bay News 9, "I urge people to listen to the warning. In Tropical Storm Debbie, this very same neighborhood was the sight of our single drowning fatality and that's not to be taken lightly. So this is an area for significant danger for the people in the lowest part of that area."
(FORECAST: Florida Flood Potential)
Earlier in the day, Coast Guard crews discovered the vessel belonging to two Florida teens who went missing in rough seas off the state's Atlantic Coast on Friday.
See the missing teens:
The teens' boat was found 67 miles off Ponce de Leon Inlet, Petty Officer Steve Lehman told NBC News Sunday. "It is confirmed," Lehman said, "we checked the boat's registration."
Authorities continue to search for Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both 14, after they didn't return to shore near Jupiter, Florida, when they were expected around 5:00 p.m.
They were last seen around 1:00 p.m Friday when they were purchasing gas for the 19-foot watercraft, WPTV reports.
The Coast Guard said it has covered more than 25,000 square nautical miles searching for the missing teens. Crews will search throughout the night using one airplane, one helicopter and one boat.
Seas were likely rough in the Jupiter-area Friday due thunderstorms, weather.com senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen said.
"There were thunderstorms reported in the area starting shortly after 1 p.m. and continuing intermittently through about 5 p.m.," said Wiltgen.
Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, Perry Cohen's neighbor, offered up a $100,000 reward for finding the two teens.
The thunderstorms that impacted the boys' trip were part of a larger pattern of storms across Florida since Friday, resulting in localized flooding across the state.
"There's a stalled front draped from Louisiana across the Gulf of Mexico to central Florida, and from there northeastward into the Atlantic. There's a weak area of low pressure along the front just west of Tampa Bay, favoring thunderstorm development over that region," said Wiltgen.
Elsewhere across the state, the Red Cross assisted five families who were affected by flooding in Pasco County Saturday, The Tampa Tribune reported. Several neighborhoods in the county were rendered inaccessible as floodwaters threatened to encroach on homes.
Local businesses in the area were affected, as well, WFLA-TV said, including that of Mike Hills, owner of Triton Insurance Group. Hills' businesses flooded just after family and friends attempted to get furniture off the floor using bricks.
Floodwaters also inundated mailboxes and cars in Holiday, Florida, Friday night, WTVT-TV reported.
In Tarpon Springs, a public works yard was under water and vehicles were stuck in 2 feet of water on MLK Jr. Drive west of U.S. 19.
WTSP-TV in Tampa showed photos of flooded yards, roads and parking lots in communities including New Port Richey and Zephyrhills.
Flooding was also reported on the east coast of Florida in St. Augustine Friday evening. Several cars were stranded and water was up to the doors of cars on side roads in the area, according to a National Weather Service report. In less than one hour, 2.70 inches of rain was measured.