Hurricane Sally Brings Widespread Flooding to Florida Panhandle
Hurricane Sally made landfall as a Category 2 storm near Gulf Shores, Alabama on Wednesday morning, dumping massive quantities of rain over a wide swath of the central Gulf Coast. Parts of the city of Pensacola, Florida were inundated with more than five feet of flooding, and high water is expected to affect the region for days as Sally crawls slowly inland.
At least 377 people have been rescued from flooded areas in Escambia County, Florida, according to local officials. Just outside of Escambia County, in the beach town of Navarre, Florida, a Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley small-boat response team rescued six adults, three children and a dog (photo at top).
200 members of the Florida National Guard are deploying to Pensacola on Thursday to help with the response. The number of evacuees is expected to rise substantially in southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle, as continued heavy rainfall will create more river flooding.
One fatality connected with the storm has been recorded in Orange County, Alabama, according to Orange Beach mayor Tony Kennon. One additional person is missing.
The U.S. Coast Guard conducted helicopter overflights along the Gulfport, Mississippi and Fort Morgan, Alabama coastlines early Wednesday after the storm's center passed. The patrol overflights provided an early assessment of damage on the coastline, but were primarily intended to check for anyone in distress.
Image courtesy USCG
The known damage from the storm includes the loss of a section of the Pensacola Bay Bridge, which was struck by a runaway barge. Five other barges went aground near downtown Pensacola, and one more ended up against the Garcon Point Bridge, according to local media.
A barge lodged below a span of bridge decks will easily lift that span if the water level rises. Looks like a number of barges interacted with the new3-mile I-10 bridge over Pensacola Bay. One of them probably responsible for the dislodged span. Span could be lifted and reset. https://t.co/COOK2cq0Sq pic.twitter.com/MwKnT7Ueij— Ian N Robertson (@IanNRobertson1) September 16, 2020