By Ted Scouten

KEY WEST (CBSMiami) – Relentless rain from Tropical Storm Elsa soaked Key West and the Lower Florida Keys on Tuesday.

Gusty winds have broken off tree branches and whipped up the water. Just before noon, a gust of 70 mph was recorded.

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At the White Stree Pier, people reported that the water level was thigh deep.

“On the way to the pier, the wind kind of knocked me over, we had a decent gust,” said Eric Cuneo.

He said when he went out on the pier, high waves knocked him over.

“Once we got to the end of the pier, it was completely underwater. We were just wading in the water and the waves were coming over the end of the pier, bow, bow, crashing over us,” he said.

People were urged to stay off the pier because of the waves crashing over it.

The sea remained rough all day, quite different than how it normally looks.

“We got down here last Tuesday and the water’s been flat, very calm. And now, three, four foot waves, they’re breaking all over the place,” said Joe Phillips, a visitor.

“Crazy high winds, absolutely insane. Getting smacked with water and all the salt, which sucks,” said Nick Davies.

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Davies lives in Key West. He said seeing the water like this is definitely not normal.

The wind picked up throughout the day and so did the rain, getting very strong by late morning.

“It’s hard to walk, the rain is cutting really hard and it’s windy,” said resident Angelo Leto. “It’s going horizontally, it’s blowing pretty hard.

“The rain’s coming from all angles, you can see by the palm trees, it’s blowing everywhere, coming at all angles,” said Davies.

“This rain is coming in sideways and smacking me in the face. It’s a lot of wind,” said Mike Ramsyer.

As the force of Elsa began to weaken, there was some localized street flooding, making driving tricky in places if you don’t have an SUV or truck.

“I think it’s a combination of the rain and high tide. It hasn’t been more than two feet or so anywhere I have been,” said Martin Liz.

Key West Mayor Teri Johnston the worst street flooding was in low-lying areas known for flooding.

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Drivers were also urged to stay off the roads because of standing water that may be deeper than it looks.

Ted Scouten