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The Latest: Coast Guard helps shrimp boat struggle to port

Vehicles navigate past waves and debris washing over State Highway 87 as Tropical Storm Cindy approaches Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in High Island, Texas. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on Tropical Storm Cindy (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports high seas kicked up by Tropical Storm Cindy complicated efforts to save a shrimp trawler at risk of sinking, but the vessel and its four-member crew made it safely to a Texas port.

A Coast Guard statement Wednesday says the 68-foot trawler Footprint was about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Galveston, Texas, when it radioed a distress message late Tuesday. The crew reported the vessel was taking on water faster than its onboard pumps could clear it.

A Coast Guard cutter, patrol plane and rescue helicopter were dispatched early Wednesday. However, weather conditions kept the helicopter crew from lowering a rescue swimmer. The statement says the helicopter crew, instead, lowered an extra pump that enabled the shrimp boat crew to clear the water and stay afloat.

The Coast Guard cutter then escorted the vessel back to Freeport, Texas.

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4:30 p.m.

Severe weather whipped up Tropical Storm Cindy has damaged homes and vehicles in the Florida Panhandle.

Fort Walton Beach spokeswoman Jo Soria said Wednesday that falling trees have hit houses and cars in what she called “pockets of wind damage” in two or three residential neighborhoods. The locally popular Ferry Park had a number of trees down and a concrete-block baseball dugout was destroyed.

Okaloosa County Emergency Management spokesman Rob Brown said the National Weather Service told the county the storm was a supercell. He says it was likely a tornado, but forecasters won’t declare it as one until they have a ground survey team assess the area.

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3:55 p.m.

Forecasters say heavy rains are now lashing parts of the northern Gulf coast as Tropical Storm Cindy gets closer to expected landfall in coming hours.

The National Hurricane Center says it expects little change in strength before Cindy reaches the coast late Wednesday, somewhere along the Texas-Louisiana line.

By Wednesday afternoon, the center of the storm was about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Galveston, Texas, and roughly the same distance south of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Top wind speeds have remained at about 50 mph (85 kph) in recent hours as the storm churns toward land at about 9 mph (kph).

Forecasters say heavy rains from Cindy could cause life-threatening flash floods. The forecast generally calls for 6-9 inches (150-230 millimeters) of rain with up to 15 inches (380 millimeters) in some isolated spots. The Miami-based center also warns a few tornadoes are possible overnight from the Florida Panhandle into south Louisiana.

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1:10 p.m.

Authorities say a 10-year-old Missouri boy has died on the Alabama coast after being struck by a log washed in on rough surf associated with Tropical Storm Cindy.

Baldwin County Sheriff’s Capt. Stephen Arthur says the boy was hit by the debris around midmorning Wednesday in Fort Morgan, a coastal community on a peninsula at the mouth of Mobile Bay. Stephen said witnesses reported the boy was standing outside a condominium when he was struck by the log that crashed in on a large wave.

Arthur says the child was vacationing with his family and was from the St. Louis area. He says relatives and emergency workers tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the boy. His name wasn’t immediately released.

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1 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Cindy is heading toward the northern Gulf coast, where it is expected to make landfall in the coming hours.

The center said in an update at 1 p.m. CDT Wednesday that the storm was centered about 170 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana — or roughly the same distance southeast of Galveston, Texas. Its sustained winds continue to top out at 50 mph (85 kph) and it’s moving closer to the coast at a rate of 9 mph (14 kph).

Forecasters say the storm is nearing the coast along a stretch between southeast Texas and southwestern Louisiana. They add that little change in strength is expected before landfall but that it will weaken once it moves inland on Thursday.

Heavy rains associated with the storm are raising the possibility of life-threatening flash floods over a wide area of the coast.

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12:40 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging his state’s residents to take Tropical Storm Cindy seriously.

As of midday Wednesday, there were no reports of serious home or business flooding in Louisiana. But, at a news conference, Edwards noted that two unnamed storms slammed Louisiana last year with heavy flood devastation.

Strong rain bands from Cindy continued to sweep across the Gulf Coast. And authorities said dangers from flash floods, severe storms and possible tornadoes remained a danger. Edwards declared a state of emergency early Wednesday. And Plaquemines Parish on the southeast Louisiana coast declared an emergency at midday.

Cindy was expected to make landfall near the Louisiana-Texas state line Thursday.

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Noon

Tropical Storm Cindy is pumping seawater into an area of the Mississippi-Louisiana coast that’s vulnerable to storm tide flooding.

Tides on Wednesday morning were 4 feet (1.2 meters) above normal in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and 5 feet (1.5 meters) above normal farther southwest, at Shell Beach, on Louisiana’s coast.

Bay St. Louis is in Hancock County, where Emergency Management Director Brian Adam says officials counted 355 roads with standing water early Wednesday. The low-lying southern half of the county is interlaced with inlets, bayous, rivers and canals. The county faces frequent tidal flooding. Adam says it happens five to 10 times a year.

Adam says he’s received no reports of flooded homes. Many homes in the county are elevated on stilts.

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11:40 a.m.

Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Cindy have caused flooding in low-lying areas along the Alabama coast.

Some roads were covered with water in the seafood village of Bayou La Batre, but Becca Caldemeyer still managed to get to her bait shop at the city dock. If only there were more customers, she said.

“It’s pretty quiet,” Caldemeyer said in a telephone interview from Rough Water Bait and Tackle. “Nobody can cast a shrimp out in this kind of wind.”

Police said streets were flooded on the barrier island of Dauphin Island, and the city closed beaches because of dangerously rough surf. Double red flags flew in Gulf Shores to warn people to stay out of the waves, yet live video feeds showed a few people still on the beach despite rain showers and high winds.

Baldwin and Mobile counties canceled summer classes because of the storm. Heavy rains fell as far north as central Alabama, and forecasters said the area could receive as much as 5 inches (120 millimeters) of rain.

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10:30 a.m.

Rain has slackened along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast after an overnight drenching, but not before a waterspout came ashore in Biloxi, causing minor damage.

Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy says the waterspout made landfall around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, causing damage to fences, trees and power lines. No one was hurt. One large live oak branch was downed on the grounds of Beauvoir, the historic home that once belonged to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport has reported more than 7 inches (180 mms) of rain since Tuesday morning.

Mississippi officials reported standing water on hundreds of roads after heavy rains, but Lacy says some flash flooding is receding for now, and no buildings have yet been reported as flooding. Coastal rivers are expected to leap their banks, though, as water runs off.

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10 a.m.

Forecasters say a slightly weakened Tropical Storm Cindy is threatening heavy rains and life-threatening flash flooding over a wide area of the northern Gulf Coast.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Cindy was located at 10 a.m. CDT Wednesday about 170 miles (270 kilometers) south-southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana — or about 180 miles (285 kilometers) southeast of Galveston, Texas. The storm has top sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph) and is moving toward the northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).

Forecasters say a tropical storm warning has been discontinued for the greater New Orleans area and other areas north and east of the mouth of the Mississippi River. But the tropical storm warning remains in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi to San Luis Pass, Texas. Forecasters say the storm is expected to reach the coast of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas later Wednesday before moving inland.

Heavy rains are expected in southeast Texas, Louisiana, and southern areas of Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle through Thursday.

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9:35 a.m.

John Rickmon, a real estate broker in Pensacola, Florida, said he has been touring properties in the Panhandle area to see if they’ve been affected by rains from the tropical storm in the Gulf. He says some streets had water bubbling up from manhole covers.

“There’s nowhere for the water to go, so we’re seeing lots of ponding and lots of retention ponds that are right on the tipping point,” d Rickmon said. “We were saturated before this even started … I’m a bit concerned about what the next 24 hours will bring.”

Rickmon said he keeps a rain gauge at his house and it had already registered 8.5 inches (22 centimeters) before the most intense rains began.

Nearby, the National Park Service reported the bridge between Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach was closed because of flooding.

Elsewhere in the Florida Panhandle, an emergency official reported downed trees and other damage — but no injuries — from severe weather caused by a passing storm cell. Okaloosa County Emergency Management spokesman Rob Brown said the damage was reported at several points in and around Fort Walton Beach in the county — but none of it was major structural damage.

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8:45 a.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Cindy’s landfall.

The governor’s spokesman Richard Carbo said Edwards signed the statewide declaration Wednesday morning.

The storm is moving closer to the Gulf Coast, where it threatens to bring a storm surge of up to 3 feet (0.91 meters).

Wednesday morning, the storm was centered about 165 miles (265 kilometers) south-southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana, and is moving northwest near 8 mph (13 kph).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Cindy is expected to approach the coast of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas late Wednesday or Wednesday night and move inland Thursday.

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