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Hurricane Sally aftermath: Flooding threats expand across the Southeast

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Sally weakens but flood threat continues
Sally weakens but flood threat continues 07:45

Hurricane Sally's remnants dumped torrential rains on eastern Alabama and Georgia early Thursday, while the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama were facing the possibility of even more misery due to swollen rivers a day after the storm blew ashore.

At least one death has been blamed on the hurricane, which made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama, early Wednesday - blasting 105 mph winds and battering coastal communities with a massive amount of rainfall.

The National Weather Service said Thursday heavy rain associated with the storm was forecast to impact much of western South Carolina, central North Carolina and southeastern Virginia into Thursday night. "Widespread flash flooding is anticipated, especially in the Carolinas," it said.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than half a million people across Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana were without power, according to poweroutage.us.

Hurricane Sally Makes Landfall On Gulf Coast
An aerial view from a drone shows a vehicle driving through a flooded street after Hurricane Sally passed through the area on September 17, 2020, in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Joe Raedle / Getty
 

"I can't comprehend the damage it's done"

Residents in Robertsdale, Alabama, are cleaning up homes and businesses after Hurricane Sally devastated the Gulf Coast on Wednesday. David Middleton, who opened his auto parts store 33 years ago, said his business lost its storefront.

"I started getting calls around 6 this morning from friends and customers saying the shop's bad, took the roof off," Middleton told CBS affiliate WWL. "We actually had to chain saw our way to get here."

Middleton said he needed to chainsaw his way past fallen through storm damage to get into his business. "I can't comprehend the damage it's done," he said.

Another resident said cleaning up storm damage in the area could take months. "I don't look forward to all the repair work," he said.

By Justin Carissimo
 

Gulf Coast braces for second round of flooding

Rescuers along the Gulf Coast used high-water vehicles Thursday to reach people cut off by flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, even as the region braced for a delayed, second round of floods in the coming days from rivers and creeks swollen by the storm's heavy rains.

Across southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, homeowners and businesses began cleaning up, and officials inspected bridges and highways for safety, a day after Sally rolled through with winds up to 105 mph (165 kph) and more than a foot of rain in many places before it began to break up.

Its remnants continued to push deep inland with heavy downpours, threatening flooding across the South all the way to Virginia.

In hard-hit Pensacola and surrounding Escambia County, where Sally's floodwaters had surged through downtown streets and lapped at car door handles on Wednesday before receding, authorities went door-to-door to check on residents and warn them they were not out of danger.

At least eight waterways in Alabama and the Panhandle were expected to hit major flood stage by Thursday. Forecasters warned that some could break records, submerge bridges and swamp homes.

"Please, please, we're not out of the woods even if we've got beautiful skies today," said Escambia County emergency manager Eric Gilmore.

By Associated Press
 

Video shows huge alligator swimming in storm surge

Hurricane Sally didn't just bring massive floods and downed power lines to the Gulf Coast -- it also left a few natural dangers in its wake. Tina Bennett, who lives in Gulf Shores, Alabama, shared video with CBS affiliate WKRG of a giant alligator swimming through the waters surging outside her residence after Sally made landfall on Wednesday.

"Oh my god, this is outside of our window!" Bennett can be heard saying in the video. "It is a 10 or 12-foot alligator!"  

Our yard on Plash Island in Gulf Shores We have been surrounded by water, alligators, and poisonous snakes

Posted by Tina Lambert Bennett on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Read more here.

 

Unusually high tides expected on Georgia and Carolina coasts

The National Weather Service Charleston said Thursday that unusually high tides are expected through at least Monday.

"The highest tides over the weekend could produce 1 to 2 feet of inundation along the SC and GA coasts," it tweeted.

It also issued a special marine warning, effective until 4 p.m. Eastern.

 

"Tremendous damage" to one county from Sally

An official for an Alabama county just east of Mobile Bay says the county has sustained "tremendous damage" from Hurricane Sally.

Jenni Guerry, deputy director of emergency management for Baldwin County, said search crews have been trying to make sure people are accounted for and taking them to safety when needed.

Trees and power lines are down throughout the county, one of Alabama's largest with about 225,000 people. In a social media post, the county said there are also many traffic lights still out and that has led to "collisions and a lot of near misses."

Homeowners and businesses along the soggy Gulf Coast have begun cleaning up in the storm's wake, even as the region braces for a delayed, second round of flooding in the coming days from rivers and creeks swollen by the storm's heavy rains.

By Associated Press
 

Firefighters wade through 3 feet of water to save buildings

Firefighters in Orange Beach, Alabama, waded through three feet of water early Thursday to save three buildings.

"They couldn't access the road leading to the incident due to flood waters, downed trees and power lines," the Orange Beach Fire Department said on Facebook. "They had to hand jack 1,000 feet of 5" supply hose through three feet of water from the truck to the fire."

"While the two structures were total losses, they saved at least three exposures. All of this after a sleepless previous night of rescuing countless victims of flood waters due to hurricane Sally," the post said. 

 

Officials warn it isn't over yet after Sally

Officials in Alabama and Florida are warning that the disaster isn't over yet, even though Hurricane Sally has passed.

Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings said Thursday morning that inland flooding remains a concern. He says flooding continues to be a problem in the state's southern counties and they expect many rivers to be in moderate or major flood state at noon and continuing through the weekend.

In Florida, Escambia County Emergency Management Manager Eric Gilmore warned "we are not out of the woods yet," noting the dangers from cresting rivers.

By Associated Press
 

Some flights resuming at Mobile Regional Airport

Some flights are resuming Thursday at Alabama's Mobile Regional Airport. 

The announcement was shared on Twitter, where the airport advised travelers to contact airlines directly for the latest information or to reschedule.

 

Alabama governor to give update on recovery efforts

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey is holding a press conference with the officials Thursday at 10 a.m. local time (11 a.m. Eastern) to give an update on recovery efforts after Sally. 

The news conference will be stream on the governor's Facebook page.

 

Pensacola police urge people to stay off roads

Pensacola police are urging people to start off roads in Sally's aftermath. They say traffic signals and stop signs in the city are missing. 

"Road crews and electrical crews need your cooperation as well," they tweeted.

The city said thousands of residents in the area are without power and that sanitation services are suspended for the rest of the week.

Hurricane Sally Makes Landfall On Gulf Coast
Hurst Butts looks out at a flooded street in front of his business as Hurricane Sally passes through the area on September 16, 2020 in Pensacola, Florida.  Getty Images
 

Official: Pensacola saw four months of rain in four hours

The chief of the Pensacola Fire Department said the city saw at least 30 inches of rain when Hurricane Sally hit.  

"We had 30 inches of rain in Pensacola -- 30-plus inches of rain -- which is four months of rain in four hours," fire chief Ginny Cranor said, CNN reported

The National Weather Service said Thursday that rivers in Florida are continuing to flood from all the rain. Rivers are also rising in Alabama, especially in Escambia County.

 

Pieces of siding littered across roads in Dauphin Island

Pieces of siding were littered across roadways in Dauphin Island Thursday, a day after Sally hit the coastal town in Alabama. Most people there are without power, CBS affiliate WKRG reports.

Power lines are also down and flooding persists.

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said on Facebook that a high percentage of homes have siding and roof damage, and "numerous" Gulf-side houses lost steps.

He said early Thursday that reentry passes will be issued "starting very soon" at a local checkpoint.

"This should accommodate those individuals, contractors, insurance companies and more needing access to the island," he posted. "The checkpoint will remain in place until on-island conditions improve."

 

Multiple flash flood warnings in effect in Georgia

Flash flood warnings were in effect Thursday for cities across Georgia, including Atlanta, Peachtree City, East Point, Louisville, Wrens, Wadley, Macon, Warner Robins, Perry, Greensboro, Union Point, Crawfordville, Milledgeville, Hardwick and Gray, according to the National Weather Service.

The warnings are in effect as Sally moves across the South, dumping rain in Georgia, downing trees and forcing road closures due to flooding. 

Robins Air Force Base in the central part of the state closed one of its entrances Thursday morning because of flooding, "until further notice." The base said on Facebook it would delay the start of the workday by two hours for some employees. 

Contributing: The Associated Press 

 

Pensacola airport still closed after Hurricane Sally

Pensacola International Airport remains closed and officials say they need to assess the safety of the runway and its facility before it reopens. 

The airport closed Monday as Sally bore down on the Gulf Coast, and in a statement Wednesday evening gave no timeline on when it would reopen.

The airport typically has dozens of daily flights from airlines that include Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and Frontier Airlines. It's asking passengers to contact their airlines about canceled flights.

Authorities have warned that rain from the storm could swell eight waterways in Florida and Alabama to record levels. 

By Associated Press
 

Sally weakens but remains a dangerous rainmaker

Sally continues to weaken as it moves over the South after hitting the Gulf Coast as a Category 2 hurricane, but it is still a dangerous rainmaker as it moves into Georgia on a path to the Carolinas.

The tropical depression's maximum sustained winds early Thursday have decreased to near 30 mph with additional weakening expected.

As of 5 a.m. ET, Sally was centered about 50 miles (southeast of Montgomery, Alabama, and qA moving northeast near 12 mph.

By Associated Press
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