The massive storm system that wreaked havoc this week in parts of the Midwest and South has dumped up to two feet of rain across Florida’s panhandle and other parts of the Gulf Coast early Wednesday. Scores of people were stranded in their homes and vehicles, waiting for rescuers to find a way around washed out roads. Many people who had to abandon their vehicles ended up walking to safety as rescue personnel simply could not get to them.
Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, declared a state of emergency for over two dozen counties in his state Wednesday after up to 22 inches of rain fell to cause widespread, massive flooding. Many roads in the state were closed due to flooding including parts of I-10 north of Pensacola. Many residents reported having water halfway up their front doors and some had to quickly take refuge in their attics when the floodwaters quickly inundated their homes.
Even the most weather-toughened residents living along the Gulf Coast in Alabama were shocked by the massive flooding that took place there. Hundreds of people were rescued in Alabama and Florida from their homes, cars and ditches. Some stranded residents had to walk to safety due to rescuers not being able to reach them. Many roadways were completely washed away which made rescue efforts extremely challenging. Numerous people were plucked from rooftops after having to retreat from the many feet of water that rushed inside their homes.
The town of Gulf Breeze, Florida suffered extensive flood damage after more than 17 inches of rain fell in a 24 hour period. The lower areas of that city were the most affected with many homes and commercial properties completely underwater. Many residents of Gulf Breeze were rescued from their rooftops as they had to climb out of their homes due to fast-rising floodwaters. Multiple roads in Florida’s panhandle were chewed up into pieces or wiped out entirely due to the widespread flash flooding. Even though people were told of flash flood warnings well ahead of the storms, many were still caught off guard as the water rose very quickly due to the heavy amounts of rain that fell.