Alberto's remnants batter NC - - Columbia, South Carolina

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Alberto's remnants batter NC

Vehicles drive around barriers warning of street flooding as Alberto passed over the area, St. George Island, Florida. AP image. Vehicles drive around barriers warning of street flooding as Alberto passed over the area, St. George Island, Florida. AP image.

(Raleigh, NC-AP) June 14, 2006 - The remnants of tropical storm Alberto have nearly left North Carolina, but it's left a nice mess to remember it by.

High wind and flood warnings are still in force for counties from the Triangle to the coastline. The storm dumped close to eight inches of rain in the area around Raleigh, including 7.8 inches at the National Weather Service office in town.

It also brought two waterspouts to the coast - one in Morehead City and the other on Hatteras Island - though officials say neither caused any damage.

In Raleigh, a major shopping mall had to close when its parking lots and nearby streets flooded. The same stream flooded a hotel north of downtown, and the county opened a shelter for 20 people who were forced to move out for the night.

The storm also caused some damage in South Carolina.

Three small tornados were reported Tuesday. One tornado broke the windows in some police cars near the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. A second twister knocked down trees near Awendaw, and another was reported in Beaufort County.

The strong winds from the storm also knocked down a number of trees and power lines in Jasper County. The highest wind gust reported in South Carolina was 44 miles per hour at Edisto Beach.

As with many storms, downed trees and power lines posed a hazard for drivers throughout the state Wednesday morning.

In West Columbia, the Pets Incorporated had some flooding in their thrift warehouse. A major water backup caused damage to some of the goods in the warehouse. There were no pets at the facility during the flooding.

Rain totals of two to three inches were reported along the coast and in the Midlands. The National Weather Service reported hail and lightning in the Pee Dee Tuesday night.

Alberto made landfall early Tuesday afternoon near Adams Beach, Florida, about 50 miles southeast of Tallahassee.

In Florida Tuesday night, more than 20,000 homes and businesses were without power after Alberto pounded several coastal towns.

Alberto's center came ashore packing sustained winds of up to 50 miles per hour.

The heavy rain flooded many areas across central Florida, especially towns like Crystal Lake and Cedar Key. There were no reports of any major damages.

In Crystal River, water was thigh high in the heart of the town. David Garrick, owner of a restaurant and eight apartments along the bay, nervously paced the parking lot next to the apartments as water inched toward their doorsteps.

"We're tempting fate right now, but there's not much you can do. You can't sandbag because it comes in under the floor," he said.

The only road in and out of Cedar Key for the island's 940 residents, was briefly closed because of flooding, but Cedar Key City Commissioner Pat O'Neal said, "We dodged a bullet."

It was unclear how many of those ordered to evacuate their homes actually left.

Levy County sheriff's Capt. Chuck Bastak said residents of Cedar Key in the gulf were "gun shy" about evacuating after a no-name storm of 1993 beat up the island and authorities were slow to let them return to their homes.

"They're kind of hard-core," Bastak said of some longtime island residents. "It would take an act of Congress, God and weather to get them out of there."

Alberto did come with some benefits: Federal, state and local officials said the storm gave them real-world practice on the lessons learned from the slow response to some of last year's hurricanes. Hurricane specialists said they ran into a few computer glitches but nothing that couldn't be fixed by the next storm.

"You can train all you want, but nothing beats the real deal," said state Emergency Management spokesman Mike Stone.

"The evacuations went as planned," Gov. Jeb Bush said. "I can assure you that if a stronger storm comes our way, that we have a great team."

Alberto's rainfall should also help the state battle wildfires that have blazed in different areas over the past two months, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said.

Scientists have predicted an active 2006 storm season, with 16 named storms, six of them major hurricanes. Last year's hurricane season was the most destructive on record and the busiest in 154 years of storm tracking, with a record 28 named storms and a record 15 hurricanes.

For more information, you can visit the WIS Hurricane Center and view the latest Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook from the National Hurricane Center>>

Updated 6:15pm by Bryce Mursch with AP

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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