- Associated Press - Monday, September 5, 2011

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A man drowned when he was swept away by floodwaters spawned by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee in Mississippi, authorities said Monday.

The death of John Howard Anderson Jr., 57, was the first reported so far as a direct result of the steady rains dumped by Lee. A body boarder in Texas drowned after being pulled out to sea by heavy surf churned up by Lee, and the Coast Guard was searching for a boy swept away by rough surf off the Alabama coast.

Tishomingo County Coroner Mack Wilemon said Mr. Anderson, of Corinth, Miss., drowned about 11 p.m. Sunday. Tishomingo County is in the northeastern corner of the state.

Mr. Anderson was staying on a house boat in the marina of Coleman Park. A creek that naturally flows over the entrance of the park was swollen with floodwaters when Mr. Anderson and two others tried to cross the water in a car. They had gotten out of the car and were in the process of being rescued when Mr. Anderson was swept away.

His body was found in the woods about 300 yards away.

Meanwhile Monday, Lee was dumping steady rain across the South, causing scattered flooding and power outages. Forecasters warned that the slow-moving system could cause inland flooding in areas with hills or mountains in the coming days. Isolated tornadoes also were reported in Mississippi and Alabama, though no widespread damage or deaths were reported. Flash flood and tornado watches were in effect across several states.

By Monday, the heaviest rain was in east Mississippi and pushing into Alabama.

“Right now, it’s a big rainmaker,” said Marc McAllister, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Jackson, Miss.

Chris Mims, a spokesman for the city of Jackson, said 45 families in an apartment complex were taken to a storm shelter because of water from a flooded creek that came near the building.

The storm dumped 8 to 10 inches of rain in central Mississippi before slacking off as it weakened and pushed to the east. As much as a foot fell in parts of New Orleans, and even more in other areas.

Just west of the Florida Panhandle, Alabama’s main beaches in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach alternately filled with and emptied of tourists as squalls from Lee moved across the coast on Labor Day. Many vacationers spent the morning packing for the drive north toward heavy storms moving across the region.

Beaches were empty about 35 miles west on Dauphin Island as waves broke beneath houses standing on stilts and splintered lumber floated in the surf. Much of the island’s main road was flooded and covered with sand, jellyfish and foam washed in by Lee. Customers trickled into the town’s largest store on what should have been a busy day.

“It’s been kind of boring,” said Tabitha Miller, a clerk at Ship and Shore. “It’s not killing us, though, since we’re the only gig in town.”

National Hurricane Center specialist Robbie Berg said Lee’s flash-flood threat could be more severe as the rain moves from the flatter Gulf region into the rugged Appalachians.

Closer to the Gulf, the water is “just going to sit there a couple of days,” he said. “Up in the Appalachians, you get more threat of flash floods.”

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