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'Absolutely surreal.' Florida Panhandle hit with severe flooding from Hurricane Sally

By Alex Harris and Michelle Marchante, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

A last-minute eastern wobble brought the Category 2 winds of Hurricane Sally - and two feet of rain - to the Florida Panhandle overnight.

Although the storm made landfall in Alabama early Wednesday, it brought hurricane and tropical storm force winds from Pensacola to Panama City. The hurricane flooded dozens of roads, left more than 10,000 people without power and even led to water cutoffs in some places.

More than 500 people were in need of evacuation from Okaloosa County Wednesday morning, the Northwest Florida Daily News reported, as storm surge and heavy rains drenched the region.

Pensacola has already had two feet of rain only a few hours after the Category 2 hurricane made its Alabama landfall, and almost the entire Panhandle area is under flood watch warnings, said CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Videos posted on Twitter show severe flooding in downtown Pensacola, with cars partially submerged. The National Weather Service says the area has recorded at least three to four feet of water "and it continues to worsen."

"Absolutely surreal to see so much of the city underwater from storm surge," The Weather Channel's Chris Bruin tweeted from downtown Pensacola.


"Wow look at this flooding right now in Pensacola. High tide isn't until 11:30 a.m. so the water only going to go up from here," WPTV reporter Erika Rakow tweeted.

Walton County opened a shelter early Wednesday morning, and Okaloosa County opened five emergency medical services sites across the county.

More than six inches of rain have been recorded across the Florida Panhandle within the last 24 hours, said WSVN meteorologist Vivian Gonzalez. Panama City Beach has seen the most with 11.21 inches of rainfall.

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