Environment

Hurricane Sally Takes Aim At Gulf Coast, Prompting Warnings Of Storm Surges And Floods

“As things started to peel off and fall apart, they got scared and called for assistance,” Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said by phone. He said no one was injured.

In Orange Beach, Alabama, winds blew out the walls in one corner of a condominium building, exposing the interiors of condos on at least five floors, video posted online showed. Other images showed boats shoved onshore by storm surge.

At least 50 people in Orange Beach were rescued from flooded homes and taken to shelters, Mayor Tony Kennon said.

“We got a few people that we just haven’t been able to get to because the water is so high,” Kennon said. “But they are safe in their home, as soon as the water recedes, we will rescue them.”

Street lights were knocked out in downtown Mobile. Trees were bent over as the rain blew sideways in the howling wind. In downtown Pensacola, water rushed down some streets like river rapids, forming whitecaps as it slapped against buildings and rose above the tires on cars.

Before sunrise, water was up to the doors of Jordan Muse’s car outside the Pensacola hotel where her family took shelter after fleeing their mobile home. The power failed early in the morning, making it too stuffy to sleep. Her 8-year-old son played with toys underneath the hotel room desk as Muse peered out the window, watching rain fly by in sheets.

“The power trucks are the only ones above water, and they’re the biggest,” Muse said. “I can’t believe it got so bad. That’s why we came here.”

Michele Lamar-Acuff woke to the thud of a small tree falling against a window of her Pensacola home. Waist-deep water gushed down her street. Above the loud whistling of the wind she heard what sounded like transformers exploding.

“I don’t feel safe to leave,” Lamar-Acuff said from the porch of a neighbor’s house. “I’m just staying put and hoping for the best.”

Sally blew ashore as a Category 2 storm but weakened to a still-dangerous Category 1, with winds of 80 mph, by mid-morning. It was moving to the northeast at 5 mph (7 kph). Forecasters warned that heavy rain will continue into Thursday as the storm moves inland over Alabama and into central Georgia.

National Hurricane Center forecaster Stacy Stewart said the rain will be “catastrophic and life-threatening” over portions of the Gulf Coast. Forecasters predicted 10 to 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rain, with up to 35 inches (89 centimeters) in some spots.

“Sally has a characteristic that isn’t often seen and that’s a slow forward speed, and that’s going to exacerbate the flooding,” said Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the hurricane center. He likened the storm’s plodding pace to that of Hurricane Harvey, which inundated Houston in 2017.

Sally’s effects were felt all along the northern Gulf Coast. Low-lying properties in southeastern Louisiana were swamped by the surge. Water covered Mississippi beaches and parts of the highway that runs parallel to them.

President Donald Trump issued emergency declarations for parts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News Channel that Trump was in contact with the states’ governors and ready to help “in every way possible.”

Hurricane Laura pummeled southwestern Louisiana on Aug. 27. Thousands of people were still without power from that storm, and some were still in shelters.

Meanwhile, far out in the Atlantic Tropical Storm Teddy became a hurricane with winds of 100 mph (160 kph). It was situated more than 800 miles (1,300 km) east of the Lesser Antilles. Forecasters said it was likely to become a major hurricane, reaching Category 4 strength on Thursday.

 

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