UPDATE: Nate moves inland with heavy rains, gusty winds

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BILOXI, Miss. (AP) -- Nate is moving inland with heavy rains and gusty winds after socking the central Gulf Coast.

Forecasters said Sunday that Nate was about 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of Nashville, Tennessee. Nate was a hurricane when it washed ashore earlier Sunday along the Mississippi coast.

At 4 p.m. CDT Sunday, Nate was a tropical depression with winds of about 35 mph (56 kph). The depression is dropping rain across Florida and Georgia and into the southern Appalachian Mountains. It will drop more rain on the Ohio Valley and continue into the Northeast before exiting Maine on Tuesday.

Forecasters are calling for 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain in those areas.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Sunday the federal government has issued an emergency declaration for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in the Panhandle following Hurricane Nate. A similar declaration was issued for the state of Alabama.

Scott said that will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide any needed disaster assistance in the two counties, although there are no reports of major damage or deaths in the area.

As of midday about 6,800 electric customers were without power in Florida, the governor said.

Nate was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi, Mississippi, early Sunday, its second landfall after initially hitting southeastern Louisiana on Saturday evening. The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression by midday Sunday.

Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos have been given the all-clear to reopen while the region recovers from Hurricane Nate.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission said on its website that coastal casinos were allowed to re-open as of 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Closures were ordered Saturday as Nate approached.

The storm hit the coast with surges of up to 10 feet, and some casinos reported ground level flooding.

Nate was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi early Sunday. By midday Sunday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami had downgraded Nate to a tropical depression.

Officials are assessing storm damage to the manmade beach that lines much of Mississippi's coast.

Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said the process of cleaning sand and debris from beachfront U.S. 90 will take at least until Monday.

Officials say a storm surge of up to 10 feet was received near the Alabama state line.

Damage to about 25 structures has been reported so far in Mississippi, and electricity was slowly being restored.

The total number of customer without power fell to about 32,000 at 11 a.m. Sunday, from nearly 50,000 at the height of the storm.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the hurricanes that have struck the U.S. and its territories this year - four so far - have "strained" resources.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long told ABC's "This Week" that some 85 percent of the agency's forces were deployed and still working on issues created by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and now Nate.

He said that "in regards to resources, of course we're strained" because "nearly 85 percent of my entire agency is deployed right now. We're still working massive issues in Harvey, Irma, as well as the issues in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and now this one."

Nate struck the U.S. as a Category 1 storm on Saturday but has since weakened substantially. The National Hurricane Center in Miami downgraded the storm to "tropical depression" strength and discontinued all hurricane and storm surge warnings and watches for the Gulf Coast.

Winds gusts of tropical storm force were expected over the Florida Panhandle and portions of Alabama and Georgia on Sunday, the hurricane center said. Water levels remained elevated along portions of the northern Gulf Coast, but were expected to gradually subside by midday Sunday.

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) --A fast-moving storm called Nate brought flooding and power outages to the U.S. Gulf Coast early Sunday after it sloshed ashore outside Biloxi, Mississippi — the first hurricane to make landfall in that state since Katrina devastated the region 12 years ago.

The storm hit Mississippi as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 85 mph (140 kph) but weakened later to a tropical storm as it moved inland, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. More than 100,000 residents in Mississippi and Alabama were without power following the arrival of Nate, but no deaths or injuries were reported early Sunday. Authorities were beginning to assess the storm’s impacts, but most areas in Nate’s path seem to have avoided major damage - including New Orleans.

City of Biloxi employees were working to clear debris on Highway 90, the main beachfront highway, before dawn. Nate washed up sand and logs and even a large trash bin into the four-lane highway. Despite the debris, there was little to no damage to structures that were visible. A handful of businesses were reopening before dawn, and the storm surge that washed across the highway had receded by 6 a.m.

Storm surge flooded the parking structure of the Golden Nugget casino in Biloxi, but a city official said there were no immediate reports of flooding on the floors of any casinos.

“We are thankful because this looked like it was going to be a freight train barreling through the city,” said Vincent Creel, a city spokesman.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said there were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or injuries in the state. Roughly 1,100 people spent the night in shelters.

“Thankfully, right now we have no major damage reports,” he said.

Hancock County Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Adam said Nate’s storm surge flooded roads in low-lying areas, but he hadn’t heard any reports of flooded homes.

“We turned out fairly good,” he said as he prepared to survey neighborhoods for possible damage. “Until we get out and actually get into some of the areas, we really won’t know.”

In Louisiana, fears that Nate would overwhelm the fragile pumping system of the city of New Orleans proved unfounded. The storm passed to the east of New Orleans, sparing the city its most ferocious winds and storm surge. Mayor Mitch Landrieu lifted a curfew on the city known for all-night partying on Saturday night.

Nate has been steadily weakening since making first landfall in a sparsely populated area of Plaquemines (PLAK’-uh-minz) Parish. As of 8 a.m. EDT, Nate was centered about 95 miles (155 kilometers) west-southwest of Montgomery, Alabama, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph). Although the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Nate was “rapidly weakening,” the misery associated with heavy rain was to persist over a wide area.

Through Monday, Nate was expected to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to the Deep South, eastern Tennessee Valley and southern Appalachians. The Ohio Valley and central Appalachians could also get heavy rain, the hurricane center said.

Nate’s powerful winds have knocked out power to more than 100,000 customers in Mississippi and Alabama, but didn’t have the intensity other storms — Harvey, Irma and Jose — had during this busy hurricane season. Nate was the first hurricane-strength storm to make landfall in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, reducing thousands of beachfront homes and businesses to slabs.

In Alabama, the storm’s rising water flooded homes and cars on the coast and inundated at least one major thoroughfare in downtown Mobile. Storm surge also flooded Water Street in downtown Mobile and a ground-level causeway across Mobile Bay. Alabama Department of Transportation traffic cameras show water still standing on both those routes before dawn Sunday.

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said he woke up around 3 a.m. Sunday to discover knee-deep water in his yard. Although some homes and cars on the island had flooded, Collier said he hadn’t heard of any reports of residents needing to be rescued. Collier also said the water levels appeared to be falling as dawn approached.

“We didn’t think it would be quite that bad,” he said. “It kind of snuck up on us in the wee hours of the morning.”

At sunrise in Pensacola Beach, Fla., a small front-end loader was scraping sand off a parking lot and returning it to the nearby beach. Sand was also pushed up onto the decks of beachside bars and restaurants. Daren Fromel, 50, of Gulf Breeze, Florida, drove to Pensacola Beach at sunrise to see what Nate did.

“It’s a little more intense than I expected. I didn’t expect to see sand in the parking lot,” he said.

Officials rescued five people from two sailboats in choppy waters before the storm. One 41-foot sailboat lost its engine in Lake Pontchartrain and two sailors were saved. Another boat hit rocks in the Mississippi Sound and three people had to be plucked from the water.

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