Tropical Storm Sally felled trees, flooded streets and houses, and turned off the electricity. It reportedly killed one person when the previous hurricane hit the US southeast with pouring rain on Wednesday.
Sally landed overnight near Gulf Shores, Alabama, along the Florida border as a Category 2 hurricane.
The slow-moving Sally, later downgraded to a tropical storm, then lingered over parts of southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, where it caused severe flooding with abundant rain, the National Hurricane Center said.
“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding continues to affect parts of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama,” the NHC warned.
US media reported a death in the coastal city of Orange Beach, Alabama, but Mayor Tony Kennon said he had no further details, according to news site AL.com.
Some of the worst reported floods occurred about 50 kilometers east in the Florida city of Pensacola, which has a population of around 52,000.
Downtown streets resembled lakes with cars dipped on their wheels and gusts of wind kicking white caps on the water.
“Flooded streets and intersections and dangerous debris on streets (locations) have become too numerous to list,” Pensacola police tweeted. “Please stay off the road now.”
Residents of northwest Florida expected rain and wind, but were largely surprised when Sally made a sharp turn east and scored a direct hit.
People no longer had time to collect food or water, let alone cover windows or put sandbags in front of doors.
Jeff Gardner of Pensacola said his family were “surprised we were in the hurricane”.
“You just sit there and wonder if your house is about to be torn apart,” the 47-year-old told AFP. Although his home was not destroyed, he said there was “only one constant gust of wind all night”.
The new three-mile bridge over Pensacola Bay was severely damaged by a missing section and had to be closed.
At 8:00 p.m. Thursday, 0000 GMT, Sally had maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (45 miles per hour), the NHC said, warning that “some tornadoes” could occur in parts of north Florida and south Georgia.
Sally was crawling northeast at seven miles an hour, the NHC said.
The storm was expected to weaken as it moves further inland and turns into a tropical depression overnight Wednesday through Thursday.
More than 515,000 homes and businesses in Alabama and Florida have lost power, according to tracking site poweroutage.us.
“Nobody was prepared for a cat 2”
David Triana, 57, a resident of Navarre, a town near Pensacola, said he and his neighbors did not enter their homes because they did not expect the storm’s trajectory to shift so much eastward or be so strong .
“Nobody was prepared for a cat 2,” said Triana, whose house luckily got away with no harm. “The predictions for the cone and the strength of the storm did not suggest it would hit us that hard.”
The NHC said Sally hit Gulf Shores, about 35 miles west of Pensacola, with winds of about 105 miles per hour.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who declared a state of emergency on the Monday before the storm arrived, warned residents that it could take time for him to recover.
“Hurricane Sally was a slow storm that only added some natural delays in the restoration of electricity, water, and other vital services,” Ivey said.
Governor Ron DeSantis had also declared a state of emergency for counties in northwest Florida. The state activated hundreds of national guards and rescue teams before the storm hit.
This year there have been so many tropical storms in the Atlantic that the United Nations World Meteorological Organization, which is naming the storms, has run out of names for the second time in history.
The last time was 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)