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Tropical Storm Lee swamps Louisiana

Tropical Storm Lee has dumped more than a foot of rain in New Orleans and spun off tornadoes elsewhere as its centre came ashore in a slow crawl north that raised fears of inland flash flooding in America's Deep South and beyond.

Areas of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi near the coast reported scattered wind damage and flooding, but evacuations appeared to be in the hundreds rather than the thousands and New Orleans' levees were doing their job just over six years after Hurricane Katrina swamped the city.

National Hurricane Centre 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.

Vermont is still cleaning up and digging out dozens of communities that were damaged and isolated last week when heavy rain from Tropical Storm Irene quickly flooded mountain rivers.

No deaths had been directly attributed to Tropical Storm Lee, although a body boarder in Galveston, Texas, drowned after being pulled out to sea in heavy surf churned up by Lee.

A man in Mississippi suffered non-life-threatening injuries when he was struck by lightning that travelled through a phone line, police said

The vast, soggy system spent hours during the weekend hovering in the northernmost Gulf of Mexico before its centre finally crossed into Louisiana west of New Orleans, pelting a wide swath of coastline.

On Sunday night, the National Hurricane Centre said Lee had maximum sustained winds of 40mph. Its centre was about 45 miles south east of Alexandria, Louisiana, moving north at 6mph.

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