Pensacola, Florida (PNJ) -- The 13.1 inches of rain that fell on Escambia County on Saturday? That was Mother Nature.
But the sea monster swimming in floodwater in front of the Burger King on Brent Lane near Pensacola Christian College? That was courtesy of Kathleen Hicks, a 20-year-old University of West Florida telecommunications major.
The doctored photo has become a Florida Panhandle Internet meme and an iconic symbol of the flood, having been shared thousands of times on Facebook.
Danielle Morrison, a Pensacola teacher who lives in Lillian, Ala., submitted the original photo to the Pensacola News Journal. It was shared on pnj.com and on the News Journal's Facebook page, then spread from there.
That's when Hicks found the photo and inserted the sea monster.
"I thought it was just crazy that it was flooding so much," she said. "So I just got this idea."
Morrison said she and her husband took Interstate 110 from downtown to the Brent Lane exit and headed west in their SUV. Plowing through the water in their vehicle, they saw the Burger King up to its windows in water.
"I thought we could make it through, and we did," Morrison said. "So I took the photo from the vehicle. That's why you can see my finger on the edge of the photo." (Her finger is the orangey image in the bottom right corner.)
Hicks said to create the image she just put "sea monster" into a Google search engine. Then, using her Mac tools, she had the image up in about five minutes.
She posted it on her Facebook and didn't think much of it.
"I had no idea it was so popular," she said. "I have only 400 friends on Facebook and only had seven shares myself."
But those who did get the photo from her shared it with their friends, and the photo's reach grew.
David Renfroe, 22, of Pensacola, came across the photo Saturday on Facebook and posted it on his page. By Wednesday, Renfroe had shared the Burger King kraken photo with 530 of his 948 Facebook friends.
"I was at a buddy's having a few drinks and we came across it on Facebook," Renfroe said. "We just started dying laughing."
Apparently, everyone else is, too.
"Is that what happens when you add bath salt to floodwater?" one of Renfroe's Facebook friends wrote.
"Clever way to add humor to a dismal weekend of relentless rain. Love it!" wrote another.
Hicks said she is shocked by the Internet monster she has created.
"I had no idea it was so popular until later," she said. "It's crazy."
Morrison said Hicks' doctored photo was funny, but the sea monster obscured an important feature that showed the depth of flooding at the restaurant that has been ever since.
"It covered the trash can that was overflowing with water," she said.
Troy Moon, Pensacola News Journal