Hurricane Sally has left widespread devastation in its wake after battering southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle with 105mph winds, a surge of seawater and more than 2 feet of rain, killing at least two people and leaving more than a half-million homes and businesses in the dark.
Dramatic drone footage has emerged showing the scale of the damage wrought by Sally in multiple states, including the Gulf Coast of Alabama, the Florida panhandle and coastal Georgia.
And the region is now facing a new threat in the form of a tropical depression, which has formed in the Gulf Coast and was expected to strengthen to a tropical storm and take aim at coastal Texas in the coming days.
Video from hard-hit Pensacola, Florida, showed at least 30 sailboats, fishing boats and other vessels clumped together in a mass of fiberglass hulls and broken docks at a downtown marina. Some boats rested atop sunken ones.
FLORIDA: Some 30 boats are seen clumped together in a mass of fiberglass hulls and broken docks at a marina in downtown Pensacola, Florida, after Hurricane Sally
A section of the main bridge between Pensacola and Pensacola Beach collapsed after it was hit by a barge that broke loose during the storm.
Sally’s floodwaters had coursed through downtown streets, washing away sections of roads, 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.
‘Please, please, we’re not out of the woods even if we’ve got beautiful skies today,’ said Escambia County emergency manager Eric Gilmore.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis urged Panhandle residents not to let their guard down. ‘You’re going to see the rivers continue to rise,’ DeSantis said after an aerial tour of the Panhandle.
GEORGIA: A man was killed when a tree fell on top of his Atlanta home during the hurricane on Wednesday
LOUISIANA: A massive alligator is pictured swimming in the floodwaters outside the US Coast Guard station in Venice, Louisiana
Rescuers on the Gulf Coast used boats and high-water vehicles Thursday to reach people cut off by floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, even as a second round of flooding took shape along rivers and creeks swollen by the storm’s heavy rains.
Crews carried out at least 400 rescues in Escambia County, Florida, by such means as high-water vehicles, boats and water scooters, authorities said. Rescuers focused their efforts Thursday on Innerarity Point, a narrow strip of land close to Pensacola that is home to waterfront homes and businesses. Floodwaters covered the only road out.
Richard Wittig and his family were among scores of people hemmed in by floodwaters on an island at the tip of the point. Two generators powered his house.
ALABAMA: Kayakers paddle along flooded streets in Gulf Shores, Alabama, in the wake of Hurricane Sally that devastated the Gulf Coast on Wednesday
ALABAMA: National Guard soldiers from high-water evacuation teams used big trucks Thursday to rescue at least 35 people
ALABAMA: Hurricane Sally battered the Gulf Coast with 105mph winds, a surge of seawater and more than 2 feet of rain. Pictured: Kayakers are seen paddling along flooder streets of Gulf Shores
‘If I didn’t have a working generator, we’d be dead. Nobody can get to us,’ said Wittig, 77. He said he and his son rely on oxygen machines to stay alive.
The Florida National Guard said it had deployed about 500 soldiers and airmen to help local authorities evacuate 113 people, though it did not say when and where the rescues took place.
In Alabama, on both sides of Mobile Bay, National Guard soldiers from high-water evacuation teams used big trucks Thursday to rescue at least 35 people, authorities said.
Aerial footage from a military survey showed extensive flooding and wind damage in Mobile Bay, with many of the streets, golf courses and shopping mall parking lots appearing underwater, and sections of roofs missing from private houses.
At least one death in Orange Beach, Alabama on Wednesday was blamed on the hurricane. Another person was listed as missing.
ALABAMA: US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine agents survey damage caused by Hurricane Sally near Mobile, Alabama, on Wednesday
ALABAMA: Towns around Mobile Bay took a hit during the storm, suffering structural damages and power outages
ALABAMA: Private homes are seen with sections of roof and siding missing after being battered by 100mph winds
ALABAMA: A structure in Mobile Bay is seen nearly flattened in the wake of the hurricane
ALABAMA: Sally was the fourth hurricane to make landfall in the US so far this year
A volunteer rescue group based on Marcos Island, Florida, known as the Marcos Patriots, received three calls for help, including from an 80-year-old woman in Gulf Shores, Alabama, whose roof had blown off.
When a rescue team arrived, ‘she was safe and sound with a neighbor but her house was destroyed,’ said group co-founder ErinMia Milchman.
About 35 miles inland, a swollen Murder Creek cut off access between the Alabama towns of Brewton and East Brewton, inundating a grocery store, a tobacco shop, a park and more. Residents behind a police roadblock gazed at the neighboring city across fast-moving water covering a bridge.
East Brewton resident Brenda Davenport said it took only four hours for the water to rise. ‘It could take two days for it to go down,’ she said.
In Orange Beach, Alabama, Janice Sullivan swore she would never ride out a hurricane again. She and her daughter huddled in a second-floor bathroom as Sally blew ashore.
‘You could hear everything hitting the house,’ she said. ‘You could hear the house moving back and forth. It was literally moaning and cracking.’
In Georgia, a man was killed when a tree fell onto his home in Atlanta, which saw heavy downpours and flooding.
Officials in Cobb County reported downed trees, flooded roads and power outages affecting some 30,000 residents.
Louisiana was largely spared the worst of the damage seen in neighboring states, but it did see some flooding and power outages.
ALABAMA: The photo on the left shows the community of Gulf Shores, Alabama, before Hurricane Sally. Slide right to see the devastation caused by the storm
ALABAMA: Satellite images shows homes on Sea Horse Circle in Gulf Shores, Alabama, before and after the hurricane that struck the area on Wednesday
ALABAMA: Rental condominiums at Gulf Shores Plantation Fort Morgan in Alabama sustained damage during the storm, which brought more than 2 feet of rain and a surge of seawater
The US Coast Guard shared photos taken outside its station in Venice, Louisiana, showing a massive alligator swimming outside the partially flooded facility during the storm.
On Thursday, the National Hurricane Center warned that a new tropical depression – dubbed depression 22 – formed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.
Forecasters said the depression could become Tropical Storm Alpha as it moves slowly over the western Gulf during the next few days. The storm is projected to slow down and turn west toward the Texas Gulf Coast. It could turn into a hurricane by Sunday.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Teddy strengthened to a powerful Category 4 storm in the Atlantic. The storm currently poses no threat to land.