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Sally drenched parts of Florida with '4 months of rain in 4 hours,' officials say

Sally drenched parts of Florida with '4 months of rain in 4 hours,' officials say

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Rescuers reach people cut off by Gulf Coast hurricane

Trent Airhart wades through floodwaters, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in downtown Pensacola, Fla. Hurricane Sally made landfall Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Alabama, 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)

Hundreds of people near the Florida-Alabama border were being rescued from floodwaters brought on by Sally on Wednesday and authorities fear many more could be in danger in coming days.

"We had 30 inches of rain in Pensacola — 30-plus inches of rain — which is four months of rain in four hours," Ginny Cranor, chief of the Pensacola Fire Department, said Wednesday.

Sally has weakened since making landfall as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday morning but its devastating toll was visible across Southern states by nightfall.

By Wednesday night, it was a tropical depression, according to the National Hurricane Center. Located about 10 miles northwest of Troy, Alabama, it had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and was moving northeast at 9 mph. While all watches and warnings have been discontinued, Sally is still causing torrential rain over eastern Alabama and western Georgia.

Pensacola and other parts of Florida and Alabama were submerged by flooding, rivers were approaching dangerous levels and numerous counties were under curfews to keep residents safe.

"We are still in an evaluation and lifesaving recovery mission, and we need to be able to do that job," said Robert Bender, commissioner in Escambia County, Florida.

Sally unleashed up to 30 inches of rain from the Florida Panhandle to Mobile Bay, Alabama, leading to "historic and catastrophic flooding" there and threatening even more communities as it moves north, the National Hurricane Center said.

In Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, at least 377 people have been rescued from flooded neighborhoods, Jason Rogers, the county's public safety director, told reporters in a news briefing.

"It's going to be a long time, folks ... to come out of this thing," Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said earlier Wednesday, warning there could be thousands of evacuations.

Sally made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane near Gulf Shores around 4:45 a.m. CT with sustained winds of 105 mph.

Sally is forecast to continue tracking northeastward through Alabama Wednesday night. The center of the storm is expected to move into Georgia and South Carolina on Thursday.

Sally is the fourth hurricane to make landfall in the US this year — the most by this point in a year since 2004. It also is the eighth named storm to make landfall in the US, the most by Sept. 16 on record. — CNN

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