PENSACOLA, Florida, U.S. (AP) – Hurricane Sally slowly slammed into land near the Alabama-Florida line Wednesday with winds of 165 km / h (105 mph) and more than 60 centimeters of rain, flooding homes. and forcing the rescue of hundreds of people in what could be a slow and disastrous march through the American South.
Moving at just 5 km / h (3 mph), about the speed at which a person walks, the storm made landfall at 4:45 a.m. near Gulf Shores, Alabama, located about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Pensacola, Florida. The meteor sped up to a light jog as it struck the metropolitan areas of Pensacola and Mobile, Alabama, which are home to about 1 million people.
It dumped boats inland or sank them on docks, downed palm trees, ripped off roofs and knocked down signs, in addition to leaving more than 540,000 homes and businesses without power. A replica of a Christopher Columbus caravel, La Niña, which was docked off Pensacola, has disappeared, police said.
Sally sent a floating crane adrift, which subsequently crashed into the new Three Mile Bridge over Pensacola Bay, causing a stretch of construction barely a year old to collapse, authorities said. The storm also destroyed a long section of a fishing pier in Alabama’s Gulf State Park on the same day its groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled after a $ 2.4 million renovation.
In the afternoon, authorities in Escambia County, where Pensacola is located, reported that at least 377 people had been rescued from flooded areas. More than 40 people trapped in the water were brought to safety within an hour, including four members of a family found in a tree, County Sheriff David Morgan said.
Authorities in Pensacola, where Sally turned avenues into rivers, said 200 members of the National Guard would arrive Tuesday to provide assistance. Curfews were announced in Escambia County and in some coastal towns in Alabama.
By early afternoon, Sally had downgraded to a tropical storm and her winds dropped to 110 km / h (70 mph). Rain continued in parts of the affected area Wednesday afternoon and the storm was expected to trigger downpours inland Thursday as it moved over Alabama toward Georgia. For much of the day, the meteor was moving at only 7 km / h (5 mph), so the rains were concentrated.
More than 61 centimeters (2 feet) of rain was recorded near Naval Air Station Pensacola, and nearly 1 meter (3 feet) of water covered the streets in downtown Pensacola, the National Weather Service reported.
Meanwhile, far out in the Atlantic Ocean, Teddy became a hurricane Wednesday with winds of 160 km / h (100 mph). Forecasters said it could reach Category 4 strength before approaching Bermuda, which was hit just days ago by Hurricane Paulette.
Wang reported from Mobile, Alabama, and Martin from Marietta, Georgia. The Associated Press reporters Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia; Sudhin Thanawala and Haleluya Hadero in Atlanta; Bobby Caina Calvan and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida; Rebecca Santana in New Orleans; and Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.