TAMPA, Fla. — Practically parked off Florida's Gulf Coast since the weekend, Tropical Storm Debby raked the Tampa Bay area with high wind and heavy rain Monday in a drenching that could top 2 feet over the next few days and has already led to flooding.

At least one person was killed Sunday by a tornado spun off by the large storm system in Florida, and Alabama authorities searched for a man who disappeared in the rough surf.

An estimated 35,000 homes and businesses lost electricity. But as of midafternoon, the slow-moving storm had caused only scattered damage, including flooding in some low-lying areas.

The National Hurricane Center reported late Monday that torrential rains and flooding would continue for the next several days across parts of the Florida Panhandle and north Florida.

The bridge leading to St. George Island, a vacation spot along the Panhandle, was closed to everyone except residents, renters and business owners to keep looters out. The island had no power, and palm trees had been blown down, but roads were passable.

"Most true islanders are hanging in there because they know that you may or may not be able to get back to your home when you need to," said David Walker, an island resident having a beer at Eddy Teach's bar. He said he had been through many storms on the island and Debby was on the weaker end of the scale.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a statewide emergency, allowing authorities to put laws against price-gouging into effect and override bureaucratic hurdles to deal with the storm.

By 11 p.m. Monday, Debby was in the Gulf of Mexico, 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Apalachicola, with sustained winds around 45 mph (72 kph), according to the hurricane center. It was moving northeast at 2 mph (3 kph)

A tropical storm warning remained in effect Monday evening from Mexico Beach in the Panhandle to Englewood, south of Sarasota.

Forecasters cautioned that Debby is a large tropical cyclone spreading strong winds and heavy rains at great distances from its center.

They said it would crawl to the northeast, come ashore along Florida's northwestern coast on Wednesday and track slowly across the state, exiting along the Atlantic Coast by Saturday morning and losing steam along the way.

Parts of northern Florida could get 10 to 15 inches of rain, and some spots as much as 25 inches, as the storm wrings itself out, forecasters said.

"The widespread flooding is the biggest concern," said Florida Emergency Operations Center spokeswoman Julie Roberts. "It's a concern that Debby is going to be around for the next couple of days, and while it sits there, it's going to continue to drop rain. The longer it sits, the more rain we get."

High winds and the threat of flooding forced the closing of an interstate highway bridge that spans Tampa Bay and links St. Petersburg with areas to the southwest.

Monday evening, the state announced the closing of the Howard Frankland bridge that connects Tampa, including the region's major airport, and St. Petersburg. The eight-lane bridge carries Interstate 275 over Tampa Bay. The southbound lanes were later reopened.

People in several sparsely populated counties near the crook of Florida's elbow were urged to leave low-lying neighborhoods because of the danger of flooding. Shelters opened in some places.

On St. Pete Beach in the Tampa Bay area, surfers enjoyed the large waves in the Gulf, which is usually so calm the water looks like glass. Residents cleaned up debris in yards and streets from a possible tornado Sunday.

"The wind picked up so bad. It's very, very scary. I ran into the closet underneath the hallway stairs," said Ann Garrison, who has lived on the barrier island for 20 years but has never seen such strong winds. She said that when she came back out after just a few minutes, "the fence was gone, and it was in the middle of the yard."

Nearby, a likely tornado ripped the roof off a marina and an apartment complex and knocked down fences, trees and signs.

Kourosh Bakhtiarian's yard was flooded. He said people were driving around the neighborhood to gawk at the damage, and he complained that police hadn't closed off the streets.

"We have a lot of visitors from outside of this area. They just want to see exactly where the disaster is. I mean, this is not the happiest time," he said.

On St. George Island, many businesses were closed, but Eddy Teach's bar had a few customers and used a generator to keep beer and food cold.

"The tourists cleared out. It's not a good thing and hurts the economy during a week in peak season," said Patrick Sparks, a manager at the bar. He scoffed at the storm, which was well below the 74 mph threshold for a hurricane: "It's a little rash to send everyone home."

___

Farrington reported from St. George Island. Associated Press writers Freida Frisaro and Christine Armario in Miami; Gary Fineout in Tallahassee; and AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this report.

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  • Black skimmer

    In this Sunday, June 24, 2012 photo provided by Lou Newman, a black skimmer chick is covered in sand at Anna Maria beach in Bradenton, Fla. Wind and waves produced by Tropical Storm Debby destroyed many nesting bird sites and turtle nests along the west coast of Florida. (AP Photo/Lou Newman)

  • Kursty Setty, right, reacts as she stands in her uncle's flooded pet store Live Oak Fla., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Personal photographs float under the floodwater outside homes in Live Oak Fla., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Tropical Storm Debby

    A man paddles through flood waters from Tropical Storm Debby in downtown Live Oak, Fla. on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. The National Hurricane Center says Debby has weakened to a tropical depression as it continues to move across Florida, bringing flooding to many areas. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Matt Stamey)

  • Shanne Piet, right, transfers one of his live snakes into a dry cage with help from J.D. Crews after opening up his flooded pet shop in Live Oak Fla., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Tarra Piet, right, is embraced by her cousin Kursty Setty as they stand in Piet's fathers' flooded pet store Live Oak Fla., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Kursty Setty paddles a small boat away from her uncle's flooded pet shop in Live Oak Fla., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Black skimmer

    In this Sunday, June 24, 2012 photo provided by Lou Newman, a black skimmer chick is covered in sand at Anna Maria beach in Bradenton, Fla. Wind and waves produced by Tropical Storm Debby destroyed many nesting bird sites and turtle nests along the west coast of Florida. (AP Photo/Lou Newman)

  • Shawn Thomas, with the Clay County Engineering Division, checks out CR 218 west of Middleburg, Fla., where the road washed out overnight Wednesday, June 26, 2012. Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Debby were the cause of the floods. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

  • Clay County engineers and contractors inspect CR 218 west of Middleburg, Fla. Wednesday, June 27, 2012, after the road washed out overnight. Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Debby were the cause of the floods. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

  • Natalie Bickford, left, reacts to the flooding of her neighbors' homes as she take a boat ride with her husband Mark Bickford, right, and Chad Mullen in the floodwaters of Black Creek Wednesday, June 27, 2012 in Middleburg, Fla. Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Debby were the cause of the floods. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

  • A home is inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • Bill Koon prepares to trailer a boat after using it to move about floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • A home is inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • A home is inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • Mickey Anderson, 64, arrives at his house after wading through floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • A street sign is inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • Jarred Schreck, 12, second from left, and his neighbors Reba Hurst and her husband Wendell use a boat to get to their house inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • In this June 19, 2012 photo provided by Plaquemines Parish Government, tern chicks washed out of their nests huddle on higher ground on Cat Island West, due to a rising tide in advance of Tropical Storm Debby, when it was categorized as a tropical depression, just outside of New Orleans in Barataria Bay. (AP Photo/Plaquemines Parish Government, P.J. Hahn)

  • Tropical Storm Debby

    Water sneaks into a restaurant in Cedar Key, Fla. as Tropical Storm Debby churns on the Florida Gulf coast waiting to makes its way across the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday, June 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

  • TROPICAL STORM DEBBY

    Waves crash against the coast in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. as wind, waves, and storm from Tropical Storm Debby pound the Florida panhandle Sunday, June 24, 2012. Louisiana's governor declared a state of emergency as the storm threatens to flood low-lying coastal areas. (AP Photo/Northwest Florida Daily, Devon Ravine)

  • Tropical Storm Debby

    High winds, high tide strike at the main street of Cedar Key, Fla., as Tropical Storm Debby makes it's way across the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday, June 24, 2012. Parts of Florida, including the Panhandle, remain under a tropical storm warning as Debby churns off the Gulf Coast. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

  • In this June 19, 2012 photo provided by the Plaquemines Parish Government, a pelican nest is inundated on Cat Island West, due to a rising tide in advance of Tropical Storm Debby, when it was categorized as a tropical depression, in Barataria Bay, just outside of New Orleans. (AP Photo/P.J. Hahn, Plaquemines Parish Government, handout)

  • Cedar Key Fire Chief Robert Robinson walks on a section of a floating dock that broke loose during a storm surge from Tropical Storm Debby in Cedar Key, Fla., on Sunday, June 24, 2012. Slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby's outer bands lashed Florida with rain and kicked up rough surf off Alabama on Sunday, prompting storm warnings for those states. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Brad McClenny)

  • Cedar Key Police Chief Virgil Sandlin steps onto a section of a floating dock to secure it as strong storm surge and flooding are felt from Tropical Storm Debby in Cedar Key, Fla., Sunday, June 24, 2012. Sandlin said it was like riding a bronco trying to keep balance on the dock. Slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby's outer bands lashed Florida with rain and kicked up rough surf off Alabama on Sunday, prompting storm warnings for those states and causing at least one death. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Brad McClenny)

  • Cedar Key Fire Chief Robert Robinson clings to a section of a floating dock that broke free from the rest as strong storm surge and flooding are felt from Tropical Storm Debby, in Cedar Key, Fla., Sunday, June 24, 2012. Robinson tries to attach a chain to the dock section so it can be lifted out of the Gulf by a forklift. Slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby's outer bands lashed Florida with rain and kicked up rough surf off Alabama on Sunday, prompting storm warnings for those states and causing at least one death. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Brad McClenny)

  • Cedar Key Police Chief Virgil Sandlin works on his hands an knees to secure a section of a floating dock as strong storm surge and flooding are felt from Tropical Storm Debby, in Cedar Key, Fla., Sunday, June 24, 2012. Sandlin said it was like riding a bronco trying to keep balance on the dock. Slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby's outer bands lashed Florida with rain and kicked up rough surf off Alabama on Sunday, prompting storm warnings for those states and causing at least one death. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Brad McClenny)

  • NOAA CLOUDS

    This NOAA satellite image taken Monday, June 25, 2012 at 1:45 a.m. EDT shows Tropical Storm Debby located about 90 miles southwest of Apalachicola, Florida with maximum sustained winds near 60 mph and higher gusts. A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for areas from the Mississippi-Alabama border eastward to the Suwannee River Florida. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for areas south of the Suwannee River to Englewood, Florida. (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)

  • This photo provided by the Florida Highway Patrol shows a patrol car blocking passage on the Sunshine Skyway bridge near St. Petersburg, Fla. Monday, June 25, 2012. The bridge was closed in both directions after wind was reported at 52 miles per hour. Off the coast since the weekend, Tropical Storm Debby raked the Tampa Bay area with high wind and heavy rain in a drenching that could top 2 feet over the next few days and trigger widespread flooding. (AP Photo/Florida Highway Patrol)

  • Cars try to avoid a beach umbrella as it is pushed around by the high winds of Tropical Storm Debby in Panama City, Fla., on Monday, June 25, 2012. (AP Photo/The News Herald/Panama City, Fla., Andrew Wardlow)

  • In this June 19, 2012 photo provided by the Plaquemines Parish Government, a tern chick is washed out of its nest on Cat Island Westdue to a rising tide in advance of Tropical Storm Debby, when it was categorized as a tropical depression, just outside of New Orleans in Barataria Bay. (AP Photo/Plaquemines Parish Government, P.J. Hahn)

  • Wendy Slaughter, left, helps Pat Boninsh, center, tie down the covering on their Cedar Key, Fla., boat rental docking porch as Jacqueline Slaughter, right, makes sure it's complete. High winds and rain from Tropical Storm Debby drenches the Gulf coast as it makes it's way across the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday, June 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

  • Hank Parker

    Surfer Hank Parker heads out to catch waves in Dauphin Island, Ala., Sunday, June 24, 2012, as Tropical Storm Debby churned off the Gulf Coast, leaving wary residents to closely watch a storm whose path has so far been difficult to forecast. Warnings were issued for coastal Alabama, low-lying coastal areas in Louisiana and parts of Florida, including the Panhandle. (AP Photo/Mobile Register, Mike Kittrell)

  • Tropical Storm Debby

    Police Chief Darryl Wilson waves in surfers as a storm warning is issued in Dauphin Island, Ala., Sunday, June 24, 2012, as Tropical Storm Debby churned off the Gulf Coast, leaving wary residents to closely watch a storm whose path has so far been difficult to forecast. Warnings were issued for coastal Alabama, low-lying coastal areas in Louisiana and parts of Florida, including the Panhandle. (AP Photo/Mobile Register, Mike Kittrell)

  • Peggy Hill, on vacation from Pittsburgh, Pa., runs alongside a cliff eroded into the beach, caused by waves spawned by Tropical Storm Debby, in Ocean Reef Park on Singer Island in Riviera Beach, Fla., Wednesday afternoon, June 27, 2012. At the top of the bank, orange and yellow markers designating sea turtle nests sit perilously close to the edge. (AP Photo/Palm Beach Postm Lannis Waters)