PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Sally’s storm surge and torrential rain inundated a stretch of the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, damaging parked cars and prompting many calls for evacuations.
The slow-moving hurricane came ashore before dawn in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and moved inland between Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, dumping a deluge on urban areas whose combined populations total nearly 1 million people. Many will need to be evacuated from rising water, said Sheriff David Morgan in Escambia County, where deputies were rescuing dozens of people from swamped homes.
The ocean flowed into downtown Pensacola, with white-capped salt water slapping against parked cars. The torrential rain downed trees and the wind snapped stoplights and road signs, making any effort to venture outside hazardous.
Trent Airhart, one of dozens of utility workers who came to Pensacola to make repairs, waded through brown water as much as 4 feet deep to move trucks to safer positions. He had to dodge flotsam as pieces of limbs and building material fell into the water, using his feet to feel his way past curbs and parking barriers.
Jordan Muse, trapped with her 15-year-old daughter Maleah and 8-year-old son Ayden in a hotel surrounded by floodwater, briefly stepped outside to snap an image of the surge. She said they live in a mobile home about 15 miles away, and sought shelter in the hotel. She parked outside, and moved her car four times during the night to avoid the rising water, but it was still floor-deep before sunrise.
“I can’t believe it got so bad,” she said. “Everything’s under water, buildings … this is crazy.”