By The Weather Channel, April 30, 2014 – Torrential rain from a pair of thunderstorm clusters triggered major flash flooding along parts of the Alabama Gulf Coast and the Florida Panhandle late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Authorities blamed the flooding for one death in Pensacola, Florida.
Several homes and businesses were flooded, the Pensacola News Journal reported. Residents were reportedly stranded in cars and homes, waiting for rescuers to find a way around impassable roads while others abandoned vehicles to walk to safety.
A 10-mile stretch of Interstate 10 was flooded and closed from the Alabama state line into western Florida on Wednesday morning. Several roads were also closed throughout Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Fire rescue crews weren’t able to respond to some calls for help because of road flooding in and around Pensacola, Escambia County spokesman Bill Pearson said.
“We’ve had people whose homes are flooding and they’ve had to climb up to the attic,” Pearson told The Weather Channel on Wednesday morning.
Pearson said emergency officials described it was the worst flooding they had seen in 30 years. He cautioned that waters will continue to rise after the rain stops. “If it’s a body of water, it poses a safety threat today,” he said.
In Alabama, much of downtown Mobile was flooded and a reverse 911 – the name for the emergency notification service that calls residents in advance of an impending natural disaster or other emergency – was sent to residents at Fish River, near Silverhill, where water levels were at their highest for 60 years.
Baldwin County crews had been rescuing stranded people since before midnight and some were in shelters Wednesday morning, emergency management director Mitchell Sims told ai.com the flooding is historic.
“As soon as we get a water rescue team in here, they’re sent back out,” Sims said. “We’re rescuing people from cars, from rooftops, from all over the place.
“I think we’re going to be dealing with this for days,” added Sims, who estimated that 12 to 17 inches of rain had fallen in 24 hours. “I don’t know where the water’s going to go. Everything is saturated.”
Tuesday was Mobile’s fifth-wettest day in 143 years, the National Weather Service said.
The thunderstorms and heavy rain are expected to continue throughout the morning in the region and could linger well into the afternoon.