On Wednesday, Hurricane Sally struck ashore close to the Florida-Alabama line with 105 mph winds and rain which was measured in feet. As it pushed inland for what could be a slow and disastrous drenching across the Deep South, it killed at least one person, swamped homes, and forced the rescue of hundreds. According to Mayor Tony Kennon, the death occurred in Orange Beach, Alabama, and one person was missing. The storm made landfall at 4:45 a.m. close to Gulf Shores, Alabama, moving at about three mph (5 kph). As it swept the Pensacola and Mobile, Alabama, metropolitan areas, it accelerated to a light jog.
Authorities said Sally ripped away a barge-mounted construction crane, which damaged the new Three Mile Bridge over Pensacola Bay, making a section of the year-old span to collapse. At Alabama’s Gulf State Park, the storm destroyed a large area of a fishing pier the same day a ribbon-cutting had been planned after a $2.4 million renovation. Authorities in Escambia County stated that at least 377 people had been rescued from flooded areas by the afternoon. Sheriff David Morgan said more than 40 people stuck by high water were brought to safety within a single hour. Besides, authorities in Pensacola stated that 200 National Guard members would arrive on Thursday to assist.
Early Wednesday, Sally converted several Pensacola streets into white-capped rivers. As the water receded, soaked debris and flooded cars were left behind. Sally had weakened into a tropical storm by early afternoon. By Thursday night, the National Weather Service announced that the system was still forecast to dump 4 inches (10 centimeters) to 8 inches (29 centimeters) of rain in southeast Alabama and central Georgia. In South Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, at least eight waterways were expected to hit their major flood levels by Thursday. The National Weather Service warned that some of the crests could break records. According to Morgan, the Escambia County sheriff, thousands of people need to flee rising waters in the coming days.
Escambia officials requested people to depend on text messages for contacting family and friends to keep cellphone service open for 911 calls. Besides, in the west of Pensacola, in Perdido Key, Florida, Joe Mirable arrived at his real estate business to find the two-story building shattered. Mirable pointed out a binder labeled “Hurricane Action Plan,” while digging through the ruins. He thought the professionals got it wrong. The National Weather Service reported that near Naval Air Station Pensacola, more than 2 feet (61 centimeters) of rain was recorded, and nearly 3 feet (1 meter) of water covered streets in downtown Pensacola. The forecaster David Eversole said it was not expected that people start measuring rainfall in feet.
Sally is the latest to blow in during one of the busiest hurricane seasons ever and the second hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast in less than three weeks. The onslaught of hurricanes has focused attention on climate change, just like the wildfires raging on the West Coasts. After the hurricane ripped the roof off their home and the rest of the house began to crumble, an emergency crew rescued two people on Dauphin Island, Alabama, but no one was injured. Moreover, the wind blew out the walls in one corner of a condominium building, uncovering at least five floors in Orange Beach, Alabama. Mayor Tony Kennon said at least 50 people were saved from flooded homes and taken to shelters.