Hurricane Sally Floods Homes, Businesses in Alabama, Florida; Downtown Pensacola Covered in Water
By Jan Wesner Childsless
At a Glance
- The storm made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama.
- More than 2 feet of rain has fallen in Pensacola.
- The city’s downtown is covered in water.
- More than 400,000 homes and businesses were without power in three states.
- Winds gusted to 99 mph in Dauphin Island, Alabama.
Downtown Pensacola, Florida, is underwater as storm surge and flooding from Hurricane Sally inundates streets, homes and businesses.
“We believe that this is an epic proportion flooding event,” Escambia County Public Safety Directdor Jason Rogers told WEAR-TV Wednesday morning. “There is extremely high water, moving water that is very dangerous. We don’t believe that we have yet seen the worst of the flooding.”
No mandatory evacuation were issued in Escambia County, but Rogers said those in low-lying areas should evacuate if they can.
More than 2 feet of rain was reported in Pensacola, which was taking the brunt of the weather on the east side of the storm. Storm surge there rose at least 5 feet.
Rogers said first responders were using high water vehicles to reach some areas. Police, fire and the National Guard were going door to door. At least 269 homes needed to be checked for possible rescues in one area.
Hurricane Sally made landfall early Wednesday morning near Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Officials where the storm came ashore in Baldwin County warned of an “extremely dangerous situation” amid severe widespread damage as the sun rose and the extent of the storm’s impacts became clearer.
Drone video from the area showed walls blown out of a high-rise condominium, neighborhoods flooded and roofs damaged.
Winds gusted to 99 mph in Dauphin Island, Alabama, and 82 mph in Mobile.
No mandatory evacuations were issued in either Alabama or Florida ahead of the storm, but residents in vulnerable areas along the storm’s path were advised to leave voluntarily before Sally moved in.
More than 400,000 homes and businesses were without power across the upper Gulf Coast as of about 8:15 a.m. CDT Wednesday, according to poweroutage.us.
Here’s a state-by-state look at Sally’s wind, waves and rain.
More than 238,000 homes and businesses were without power in Alabama, nearly all of them in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
Video showed damage from winds and flooding in Gulf Shores, on a barrier island at the mouth of Mobile Bay.
Another video showed a tree that had fallen through a home in Mobile.
The pier at Gulf State Park was destroyed.
Several bridges and roadways were shut down, including the Bankhead Tunnel in Mobile. In Baldwin County, the Highway 59 bridge, Foley Beach Express toll bridge and Perdido Pass bridge all closed. Officials said those on the barrier island would have to remain until the storm passes. Sections of U.S. Highway 98, including the bridge that crosses the state line, were closed in both Florida and Alabama.
The communities of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan were under a curfew from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday. The curfew will also be in place Wednesday night. Those communities were among several in the county under voluntary evacuation advisories.
Many school districts, including public schools in Mobile and Baldwin counties, canceled classes.
More than 210,000 power outages were being reported in the Florida Panhandle.
Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said storm surge, flooding and rainfall were the biggest concerns.
“We’re waiting for this to go by then we’ll get out and do our assessments and figure out what we’ve got and what’s going to happen,” Robinson told The Weather Channel at daybreak Wednesday morning.
More than 24 inches of rain was recorded at Pensacola Naval Air Station.
“Stay at home and stay inside,” was Robinson’s message to residents. “There’s a lot of downed power lines, there’s any number of hazards that are out there. At this point we’re still receiving hurricane force winds so do not get out right now.”
Pensacola and surrounding areas took a beating from the storm throughout the night.
“I know that things are just things, but it’s really hard for to just be sitting idle and just watching everything that we’ve so hard for be ruined,” a Twitter user named USNWifeMeagan said in a me video posted around 1 a.m., describing in tears how water was flooding her family’s home.
Robinson said most area bridges would reopen once winds drop to tropical storm strenght. The Pensacola Bay Bridge, also called the Three-Mile Bridge, has to be inspected before it can reopen, he said.
Voluntary evacuations were issued ahead of the storm for parts of Escambia County, including Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach.
Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa county schools were closed Wednesday because of Sally.
The University of West Florida will remain closed through at least noon Thursday Pensacola State College also closed Monday.
Pensacola International Airport closed Monday and will remain closed until weather conditions improve and allow for safe operation.
About 11,000 homes and businesses were without power in the southeast corner of Mississippi Wednesday morning.
Winds and rain were reported Tuesday night in Pascagoula.
The Mississippi Gaming Commission ordered the 12 casinos in the state to close Monday evening.
Evacuation shelters opened in Jackson, Hancock, Harrison, Pearl River, George and Stone counties. The Mississippi State Medical Needs Shelter in Stone County opened.
Hancock County Emergency Management issued a mandatory evacuation “for all low lying areas, residents living on rivers, river inlets, bayous, creeks and in travel trailers.” Also, modular homes, mobile homes, homes under construction and/or partially constructed homes were under evacuation orders.
Harrison County ordered mandatory evacuations in some areas, but those were lifted Tuesday night, the Clarion Ledger reported.