Chicago Sun-Times

Crews work to res­cue hun­dreds cut off by hur­ri­cane

- BY JAY REEVES, ANGIE WANG AND BOBBY CAINA CAL­VAN Weather · Natural Disasters · Disasters · Incidents · Pensacola, FL · Florida · Alabama · Ron DeSantis · Steve Miller · National Weather Service · Mobile · Mobile, Alabama · United States of America · Bristol · Florida Panhandle · Escambia County · Crestview, FL · Escambia County

PEN­SACOLA, Fla. — Res­cuers on the Gulf Coast used boats and high-wa­ter ve­hi­cles Thurs­day to reach peo­ple cut off by flood­wa­ters in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Sally, even as a sec­ond round of flood­ing took shape along rivers and creeks swollen by the storm’s heavy rains.

Across south­ern Alabama and the Florida Pan­han­dle, home­own­ers and busi­nesses be­gan clean­ing up, and of­fi­cials in­spected bridges and high­ways for safety, a day af­ter Sally rolled through with 105 mph winds, a surge of sea­wa­ter and 1 to 2½ feet of rain in many places.

In hard-hit Pen­sacola and sur­round­ing Es­cam­bia County, where Sally’s flood­wa­ters had coursed through down­town streets and lapped at car door han­dles on Wed­nes­day be­fore re­ced­ing, au­thor­i­ties went door-todoor to check on res­i­dents and warn them they were not out of danger.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSan­tis urged Pan­han­dle

res­i­dents not to let their guard down. “You’re go­ing to see the rivers con­tinue to rise,” DeSan­tis said af­ter an aerial tour of the Pan­han­dle.

Most rivers fed by the storm were crest­ing in Alabama and the Pan­han­dle on Thurs­day, al­though the Shoal, in Florida was still ris­ing, said Steve Miller of the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice in Mobile, Alabama. Near Crestview, Florida, por­tions of In­ter­state 10 and U.S. High­way 90 — the two main road­ways run­ning east to west through the Pan­han­dle — were closed be­cause of flood­ing from the Shoal, the Florida High­way Pa­trol said.

Crews car­ried out at least 400 res­cues in Es­cam­bia County, Florida, by such means as high-wa­ter ve­hi­cles, boats and wa­ter scoot­ers, au­thor­i­ties said. Res­cuers fo­cused their ef­forts Thurs­day on In­ner­ar­ity Point, a nar­row strip of land close to Pen­sacola that is home to wa­ter­front homes and busi­nesses. Flood­wa­ters cov­ered the only road out.

Richard Wit­tig and his fam­ily were among scores of peo­ple hemmed in by flood­wa­ters on an is­land at the tip of the point. Two gen­er­a­tors pow­ered his house.

“If I didn’t have a work­ing gen­er­a­tor, we’d be dead. No­body can get to us,” said Wit­tig, 77. He said he and his son rely on oxy­gen ma­chines to stay alive.

A few peo­ple cleaned up in Bris­tol Park, a creek­side neigh­bor­hood where as much as 4 feet of wa­ter filled brick homes north of Pen­sacola.

Susan Cutts’ par­ents fled ris­ing wa­ter in­side their home into the garage, where they des­per­ately called for help on a dy­ing cell­phone un­til aid ar­rived.

“They were on top of their car when they got to them,” Cutts said.

 ?? GER­ALD HER­BERT/AP ?? A man watches flood­wa­ters in down­town Pen­sacola, Florida, on Wed­nes­day.
GER­ALD HER­BERT/AP A man watches flood­wa­ters in down­town Pen­sacola, Florida, on Wed­nes­day.

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