"While Tropical Storm Debby was downgraded to a tropical depression last night, Florida continues to feel the impacts from the storm," Gov. Rick Scott said in the statement.
Franklin County, just east of Apalachicola, was among the hardest-hit areas, emergency officials said. Reopening St. George Island is vital to the county's economy, and the team said it was working to ensure all resources were available for a quick recovery. St. George Island is a popular tourist destination.
More than 100 people scrambled to escape rapidly rising water Tuesday near the St. Marys River on the Florida-Georgia border, according to CNN affiliate WJXT. Some men had to use a boat to get back to their homes and rescue their children.
"I'm the furthest one out (from the water), which means I'm the last to go under, and I'm going under," resident George Rhoden told the station.
"Everybody behind me is in bad shape. It's rising 10 inches per hour. We got to go. Everybody got to leave."
Debby paralyzed whole neighborhoods for days.
"Sadly, my car didn't make it through the flooding. My car was just too low, and (the water) ended up hydro-locking the vehicle," Magalie Caragiorgio of New Port Richey, who missed two days of work because of the flooding, said Tuesday. "I haven't been able to get my car towed due to the amount of cars being stranded."
As of 11 a.m. ET Wednesday, Debby was centered about 90 miles east of St. Augustine, Florida, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm was moving east at 10 mph, carrying maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.
While Florida is no stranger to tropical weather, many residents said they had never seen flooding like that resulting from Debby.
"It's astonishing," Keith Blackmar of the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday. "... Our soil is sandy, so it handles water well, but not this much rain."
In Sopchoppy, authorities rescued 57 people from homes surrounded by rising water, Blackmar said.
"The water levels came up so fast, some of the folks didn't have time to actually pack their things and move out," said Maj. Maurice Langston with the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office.
Florida State University researcher Jeff Chanton said the area's low-lying terrain has contributed to the misery.
"The coastal gradient -- the rise of the land -- is very, very low here," Chanton said. "If you were to go swimming here and walk out from shore, you could walk out half a mile." That means a relatively small storm surge can push water "tens or hundreds of feet onshore," he said.
More than 26 inches of rain was recorded in Sanborn, south of Tallahassee, by Tuesday. Nearby St. Marks saw nearly 22 inches.
President Barack Obama called Scott Tuesday "to ensure the state had no unmet needs as the governor and his team continue to respond to extreme weather and flooding," the White House said.
At the state's request, a Federal Emergency Management Agency liaison officer was on site at the Florida state emergency operations center, according to the White House.