Sally Floods Homes, Businesses in Alabama, Florida; Damages Chunk of Pensacola Bridge

  • A section of the Pensacola Bay Bridge collapsed.
  • More than 2 feet of rain has fallen in Pensacola, Florida.
  • The city’s downtown is covered in water.
  • The storm made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama.
  • Winds gusted to 99 mph in Dauphin Island, Alabama.
  • More than 400,000 homes and businesses were without power in three states.

A chunk of the Pensacola Bay Bridge was missing after Hurricane Sally lashed the upper Gulf Coast with rain and storm surge that inundated neighborhoods, homes and businesses.

The city of Gulf Breeze shared a traffic cam photo that showed the structure, also known as the Three-Mile Bridge, with a crane laying across it Wednesday morning.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan confirmed in a news conference that a section of the bridge was gone.

Neighboring Santa Rosa County shared a photo whith what looked like a gaping hole in the structure.

Sally was downgraded to a tropical storm hours after making landfall early Wednesday morning near Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Parts of Pensacola were underwater Wednesday morning as storm surge and flooding from Hurricane Sally inundated neighborhoods, homes and businesses.

“We believe that this is an epic proportion flooding event,” Escambia County Public Safety Director Jason Rogers told WEAR-TV Wednesday morning. “There is extremely high water, moving water that is very dangerous. We don’t believe that we have yet seen the worst of the flooding.”

Morgan said at the news conference that high water vehicles and boats were being used to take people out of flooded homes.

“We anticipate the evacuations could literally be in the thousands,” Morgan said.

Separately from the bridge incident, Interstate 10 was closed from the Alabama state line through the Escambia Bay Bridge due to flooding.

Escambia County’s emergency management agency said earlier in the morning on Twitter that the fire department, sheriff’s office and the National Guard were “actively working on water rescues and life saving measures” in one area with 269 homes.

No mandatory evacuation orders were issued in Escambia County, but Rogers said those in low-lying areas should evacuate if they can. The Pensacola Bay Center was opened as a shelter ahead of the storm.

More than 2 feet of rain was reported in Pensacola, which took the brunt of the weather on the east side of the storm. Storm surge there rose at least 5.5 feet.

Emergency crews in Okaloosa County, about 60 miles to the east, were also responding to calls for rescues, according WEAR.

More than 520,000 homes and businesses were without power across southernAlabama and the Florida Panhandle as of about 12:45 p.m. CDT Wednesday, according to poweroutage.us.

Here’s a state-by-state look at Sally’s wind, waves and rain.

Alabama

More than 283,000 homes and businesses were without power.

Photos showed crushed boats and debris on Dauphin Island.

Officials where the storm came ashore in Baldwin County warned of an “extremely dangerous situation” early in Wednesday morning amid severe widespread damage as the sun rose and the extent of the storm’s impacts became clearer.

Drone video from the area showed walls blown out of a high-rise condominium, neighborhoods flooded and roofs damaged.

Winds gusted to 99 mph in Dauphin Island, Alabama, and 82 mph in Mobile.

No mandatory evacuations were known to have been issued in either Alabama or Florida ahead of Sally, but residents in vulnerable areas along the storm’s path were advised to leave voluntarily before Sally moved in.

More than 238,000 homes and businesses were without power in Alabama, nearly all of them in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

Video showed damage from winds and flooding in Gulf Shores, on a barrier island at the mouth of Mobile Bay.

Another video showed a tree that had fallen through a home in Mobile.

The pier at Gulf State Park was destroyed.

Several bridges and roadways were shut down, including the Bankhead Tunnel in Mobile. In Baldwin County, the Highway 59 bridge, Foley Beach Express toll bridge and Perdido Pass bridge all closed. Officials said those on the barrier island would have to remain until the storm passes. Sections of U.S. Highway 98, including the bridge that crosses the state line, were closed in both Florida and Alabama.

The communities of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan were under a curfew from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday. The curfew will also be in place Wednesday night. Those communities were among several in the county under voluntary evacuation advisories.

Many school districts, including public schools in Mobile and Baldwin counties, canceled classes.

Florida

More than 240,000 power outages were being reported in the Florida Panhandle.

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said storm surge, flooding and rainfall were the biggest concerns.

“We’re waiting for this to go by then we’ll get out and do our assessments and figure out what we’ve got and what’s going to happen,” Robinson told The Weather Channel at daybreak Wednesday morning.

More than 24 inches of rain was recorded at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

“Stay at home and stay inside,” was Robinson’s message to residents. “There’s a lot of downed power lines, there’s any number of hazards that are out there. At this point we’re still receiving hurricane force winds so do not get out right now.”

Pensacola and surrounding areas took a beating from the storm throughout the night.

“I know that things are just things, but it’s really hard for to just be sitting idle and just watching everything that we’ve so hard for be ruined,” a Twitter user named USNWifeMeagan said in a me video posted around 1 a.m., describing in tears how water was flooding her family’s home.

Flood waters move on the street, Wednesday, September 16, 2020, in downtown Pensacola, Fla. Hurricane Sally made landfall Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Ala., as a Category 2 storm, pushing a surge of ocean water onto the coast and dumping torrential rain that forecasters said would cause dangerous flooding from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi and well inland in the days ahead.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Robinson said most area bridges would reopen once winds drop to tropical storm strength.

Voluntary evacuations were issued ahead of the storm for parts of Escambia County, including Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach.

Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa county schools were closed Wednesday because of Sally.

The University of West Florida will remain closed through at least noon Thursday Pensacola State College also closed Monday.

Pensacola International Airport closed Monday and will remain closed until weather conditions improve and allow for safe operation.

Mississippi

About 11,000 homes and businesses were without power in the southeast corner of Mississippi Wednesday morning, but most of those had been restored by early afternoon.

Winds and rain were reported Tuesday night in Pascagoula.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission ordered the 12 casinos in the state to close Monday evening.

Evacuation shelters opened in Jackson, Hancock, Harrison, Pearl River, George and Stone counties. The Mississippi State Medical Needs Shelter in Stone County opened.

(MORE: Full List of Evacuation Orders Ahead of Sally)

Hancock County Emergency Management issued a mandatory evacuation “for all low lying areas, residents living on rivers, river inlets, bayous, creeks and in travel trailers.” Also, modular homes, mobile homes, homes under construction and/or partially constructed homes were under evacuation orders.

Harrison County ordered mandatory evacuations in some areas, but those were lifted Tuesday night, the Clarion Ledger reported.

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A man watches flood waters, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in downtown Pensacola, Fla. Hurricane Sally made landfall Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Ala., as a Category 2 storm, pushing a surge of ocean water onto the coast and dumping torrential rain that forecasters said would cause dangerous flooding from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi and well inland in the days ahead. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.


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