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Now a Tropical Storm, Danny Lingers Over Alabama

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Jim Larkin, of Gulf Shores, AL., looks toward the ocean from the deck of his fourth
GULF SHORES, ALA. (AP) — After pummeling Alabama's resort coastwith heavy rain and high wind, Hurricane Danny was downgraded to atropical storm as it edged slowly toward the Florida Panhandleearly Sunday.

At least one death was blamed on the storm and some 20,000 homesand businesses were without power. The American Red Cross providedshelter to some 2,000 people across Alabama, Mississippi andFlorida, while hundreds of residents fled inland to avoid highwinds and flooding.

Danny lost some of its circular shape and its 80-mph windsweakened to 70 mph with some gusts to hurricane strength lateSaturday. It was unlikely to become a hurricane again as it movesinland, said Don Faulkner of the National Weather Service's Mobileoffice.

But the storm remained virtually parked over Mobile Bay nearGulf Shores early Sunday, about 30 miles southwest of Pensacola,Fla.

``We anticipate some weakening, but we're still getting rain andwind,'' said National Weather Service meteorologist Randy McKee inMobile. ``There's just nothing to push it or pull it, so it's justmeandering over the bay.''

With maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, Danny remained arelatively smallish hurricane until weakening, a far cry fromHurricane Frederic, which ravaged this seashore resort area in1979.

Ground floors in some homes took water and some roads wereflooded, but major routes remained passable. The lone death blamedon the storm was a man whose body was found Friday near a swampedsailboat off Fort Morgan.

Most of the property damage was limited to torn roofs andfalling tree limbs, but a four-story Gulf Shores condominiumproject under construction crashed in the strong wind.

``It looked like something you'd see on TV, like it was in slowmotion,'' said Bonnie Larkin, who lives next door. ``It justbuckled and went down, like a domino effect.''

Along Mobile Bay's fashionable Eastern Shore, where bayfrontestates sit beneath tall pines and trees sheathed in Spanish moss,the storm knocked dead limbs to the ground but pleasure boatmarinas were reported mostly unscathed.

Patricia Shepard fled to a shelter from Gulf State Park, whereshe and 11 relatives had been camping. The children thought it wasan adventure.

``They thought it was pretty cool, all the wind and the rain,''she said.

By JESSICA SAUNDERS,Associated Press WriterCopyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

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