The Florida Panhandle and Alabama Gulf Coast were hit with widespread flooding early Wednesday, with people stranded in cars and homes waiting for rescuers to find a way around impassable roads and others abandoning vehicles to walk to safety. Crews weren’t able to respond to some calls for help because of flooding in and around Pensacola, and one woman died when she drove her car into high water, officials said.
Officials received about 300 calls for evacuation in the Pensacola area and had completed about 210, Gov. Rick Scott said at a news conference in Tallahassee. About 30,000 were without power. About 22 inches of rain had fallen by midmorning in Pensacola, with 4 more expected. Average annual rainfall for Pensacola is 65 inches, meaning much of that area was seeing about a third of that amount in just one day.
A portion of Interstate 10 north of Pensacola was closed early Wednesday but opened by midmorning. Other roads remained closed. The water filled parking lots, and in some places, are waist high.
All drivers in the area should proceed with extreme caution. The cleanup and rescues could take several days as most of the area is completely saturated.