Folks living in southeastern Alabama and in the Panhandle of Florida know that the saying ‘when it rains, it pours’ is true as heavy rains have been falling over the region since Friday. Torrential rainfall in Escambia County, Florida has left an unknown number of people homeless, forced many into shelters and has caused a yet untold millions of dollars worth of damages.
A record 13.11 inches of rain fell in Pensacola Saturday while parts of the southwestern county got over 20 inches. Several water rescues took place over the weekend as emergency personnel had to pull people from flooded vehicles and homes. Damages are expected to be well in the millions of dollars when all is said and done. Once the waters recede, damage assessment teams will move into place to begin inspecting flood-ravaged areas.
Escambia County residents were told Sunday to stay at home and not to travel because many roads were washed away or impassible. A state of emergency was put into effect in Escambia County as the flooding is severe. In Mobile, Alabama, six inches of rain fell by Saturday night, prompting authorities to warn residents to stay off the roads until the water receded and workers could look for downed powerlines and other damages.
The area around the Escambia County Sheriff’s Dept was completely submerged in water and nearly a dozen squad cars were flooded. Flash flooding caused waters to rise to over six feet in spots in Escambia County. And, the headaches are not over yet as the National Weather Service says that three to six more inches of rain are expected in northwest Florida, southwest Alabama and southeast Mississippi through Monday morning.
The storm system stirred up the Gulf and tempted risk takers into the water with deadly consequences. One man drowned when he was surfing the waves, fell off his board and went underwater. The beach was closed early Sunday due to dangerous rip currents that reached eight feet but in spite of the closure lifeguards pulled twenty-five people out of the water Sunday.
The heavy rains are being caused by a non-tropical storm system that has stalled over the region for the past several days and which is not expected to leave until later this week. The heavy rainfall has been too much for local streams, rivers and lakes to handle. Plus, the ground is completely saturated and is unable to absorb more water – resulting in flooding in many areas which typically do not see floods.