Hurricane brings flooding, major damage, at least one death

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Hurricane Sally made landfall as a category 2 hurricane in Gulf Shores on Wednesday morning, the first to do so in Alabama since Ivan in 2004.  

Turning more east as it made its way, the storm was predicted to bring life-threatening storm surge to the coastal region and extensive flooding throughout south and central Alabama. 

Alabama’s USA Today Network and its partners gathered information across the Gulf Coast and combined the following updates as Hurricane Sally made its way across the state. Here are the updates from Wednesday. 

10 p.m.: Montgomery power outages increase to nearly 14,000 

About 160,000 Alabama Power customers were without service statewide by 9 p.m. Wednesday, with about 24,000 outages in central Alabama.

Those outages included: 

  • Montgomery County – 13,600 customers
  • Elmore County – 2,700 customers
  • Lowndes County 1,700 customers
  • Butler County – 1,400 customers
  • Lee County – 1,400 customers
  • Autauga County – 900 customers
  • Dallas County – 400 customers
  • Wilcox County – 200 customers
  • Bullock County – 150 customers

Alabama Power crews have responded to power outages throughout the day, however, heavy rains and gusty winds have created unsafe conditions and slowed restoration efforts. 

Important storm safety reminders:

  • Stay away, and keep children and pets away, from downed lines. Do not drive over lines or under low-hanging lines. Always assume power lines are energized.
  • Avoid areas with fallen trees or limbs where downed lines may be hidden.
  • DO NOT attempt to remove tree limbs or anything else caught in power lines. To report an issue, call Alabama Power at 1-800-888-2726 or contact local law enforcement.
  • DO NOT attempt to make repairs to Alabama Power equipment. Call 1-800-888-2726 and wait for our trained work crews to get there so they can perform the potentially dangerous work.
  • Stay away from areas where repair crews are working. If driving near work crews, obey road signs and proceed cautiously.
  • Please maintain adequate distance as we make repairs and restore power.  At the very least, please maintain a safe distance of at least six feet from our crews and field representatives to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

9:55 p.m.: Union Springs experiences highest wind gusts in central Alabama

Much of central Alabama experienced wind gusts of about 26 mph as Tropical Storm Sally moved north through the state. The highest reported wind gusts, according to the Birmingham National Weather Service, was nearly twice that in Union Springs at 51 mph. Montgomery saw the second highest rate at 43 mph, followed by Troy at 40.

9:33 p.m.: Catoma Creek and Tallapoosa River expected to flood 

Moderate flooding is expected in the Catoma Creek near Montgomery, as well as the Tallapoosa River near the Tallapoosa Water Plant, according to the Birmingham National Weather Service. The Catoma Creek is expected to reach over 25 feet, with flood stage at 20 feet. The Tallapoosa River is expected to reach over 32 feet, with flood stage at 25.

9 p.m.: Two sons and dad saved from drainage pipe in Andalusia 

Three men were saved from drowning in a drainage pipe Wednesday afternoon, acoording to a Facebook post made by the Andalusia Fire Department.

According to the post, a teenage boy was paddleboarding in a drainage pipe along Walker Avenue when he was pulled into the underground drainage ditch. His brother attempted to rescue him, was pulled under, and their father was too.

All escaped injury.

8:05 p.m.: Barges wash up in downtown Pensacola

Social media posts showed multiple bridges that washed up in downtown Pensacola after breaking loose from the Three Mile Bridge that connects downtown Pensacola into Gulf Breeze. 

The finishing touches on the nearly $400 million project were getting completed. Florida Sen. Doug Broxson said the damage would take more than a month to repair.

Some of the barges are owned by Skanska USA. The contractor has not answered queries concerning how many barges broke lose and where they’ve ended up.

Where did the barges go? See where runaway barges from Three Mile Bridge have ended up

7:33 p.m.: The list of districts closed Thursday grows 

About 15 districts and a Montgomery private school announced classes would be cancelled Thursday due to weather conditions. Satsuma City and Tallapoosa County districts announced closures on Friday, too. 

  • Andalusia City
  • Brewton City
  • Butler County
  • Covington County
  • Crenshaw County
  • Dothan City
  • Geneva City
  • Geneva County
  • Henry County
  • Houston County
  • Lee County
  • Montgomery County 
  • Pike Road City
  • Satsuma City
  • Sumter County
  • Tallapoosa County
  • St. James

6:57 p.m.: Nearly 9,000 without power in Montgomery 

About 165,000 Alabama Power customers are without service throughout the state. In central Alabama, about 17,000 power outages exist, with Montgomery suffering the largest amount. 

 The outages exist primarily in the following areas:

  • Montgomery County – 8,900 customers
  • Dallas County – 1,700 customers
  • Butler County – 1,400 customers
  • Wilcox County – 1,400 customers
  • Elmore County – 1,300 customers
  • Autauga County – 900 customers
  • Lowndes County – 750 customers

Alabama Power crews are responding to outages as it is safe to do so.

6:35 p.m.: One dead in Orange Beach

Orange Beach Police Lt. Trent Johnson confirmed one person is dead in Orange Beach.

Johnson could not confirm whether or not the death was caused by Hurricane Sally, saying there hadn’t been enough time to investigate. 

5:03 p.m.: Montgomery Public Schools closed on Thursday

All Montgomery Public Schools and offices will be closed Thursday. In addition, virtual/remote classes and after school activities are canceled. 

MPS 9, 10, 11- and 12-month employees will resume their normal work schedules and report to their schools or offices on Friday, Sept. 18.

Parent Visitation Day and activities will resume Friday, Sept. 18, as planned, and there will be no classes for students.

4:56 p.m.: Coffee, Dale county citizens are urged to seek higher ground

The National Weather Service Office in Tallahassee, Fla. has issued a flash flood emergency for northern Coffee and Dale counties.

The is a particularity dangerous situation and residents are urged to seek higher ground now.

This includes the cities of Elba and Ozark.

At 4:30 p.m. Wednesday radar estimates show 2 to 3 inches of rain had fallen over the area in one hour. An additional 3-5 inches of rain is expected. The emergency will be in effect until 11 p.m. Wednesday.

4:50 p.m.: Damage in Silverhill

In Silverhill, Alabama, in north Baldwin County, Joel Sterling was cutting limbs off a tree after Hurricane Sally moved out of the area.

“We probably lost at least seven trees — big trees — and my barn is wiped out,” Sterling said. 

Sterling said he started keeping tabs on the storm in the early hours of Wednesday morning and it wasn’t long before he realized the situation was serious.

“We started seriously watching about two o’clock,” Sterling said. “By four o’clock we knew it was a doozy.

“I heard sheet metal being peeled off my barn. I looked out the window and saw the trees swaying. They were really dancing.”

Although his barn was destroyed, the trees caused little damage to his home. It was a scenario that was seen repeatedly throughout the small town — downed trees, but minor damage to homes.

“All these trees that fell, they fell around us,” Sterling said. “We were very fortunate.

“We’re surrounded by churches. We’re surrounded by good people. God was looking after us.”

4:30 p.m.: Montgomery, Auburn areas to see ‘ a lot of rain’

Over the next several hours, counties in the central and eastern areas of Alabama can expect to see plenty rain, according to the national weather service. 

“Most of the rainfall associated with Sally is kind of on the northeast or east side of the storm. So kind of the west of the center, there’s really not a lot and that’s not unusual for a storm when it makes landfall,” said Chris Darden, Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service in Birmingham. 

“Montgomery-Auburn area is going to see a lot of rain, really over the next three, four, six hours,” he said, adding that the eastern side of the state will have the potential of flooding. 

In an update after 3 p.m. from the National Weather Service, a flash flood watch continues for areas in central and southeast Alabama: Autauga, Bibb, Childton, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Lowndes, Montgomery, Perry, Shelby, Talladega, Calhoun, Chambers, Clay, Cleburne, Lee, Macon, Randolph, Russell, Tallapoosa, Barbour, Bullock and Pike counties. 

4:12 p.m.: Trees down and gusty winds in Montgomery

By 2 p.m., winds in Montgomery were gusting up to 30 miles per hour and at least three trees were down across roadways. Six low-lying county locations had already started flooding. Flooded areas included Japonica Street, the 630 block of Howe Street, 1900 West Street at East 5th, Chatwood at Pickfair Street, the 1300 block of Devonshire Drive and the 3200 block of Wilmington Road.

City officials said a power line was down and on fire at East Boulevard and Monticello Drive.

Alabama Power was reporting at least 600 customers without power in Elmore County, 500 in Montgomery County and 170 in Autauga County. About 3,000 in all were without power in central Alabama.

A long night was ahead. Sustained winds were expected to top 30 miles per hour with 4 to 6 inches of rainfall by 3 a.m. The city was urging people to avoid travel.

About two dozen city workers braved the storm Wednesday afternoon to help residents fill their own sandbags to secure their homes. Over two days, more than 6,000 sandbags had been filled using city supplies, more than half of those bags were filled in the hours leading up to Sally’s arrival.

3:30 p.m.: Dauphin Island Sea Lab is damaged

John Valentine, the director of Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said Wednesday “the damage is significant.”

“Most of the roofs over the research area and most of the offices are flooded with roofing and ceiling installations,” he said. “We’ve got aluminum roofing from our dormitory spread over the southern part of the campus..”

Valentine wrote that research and teaching at the research facility will be suspended, as will public access to an aquarium.

MORE: Hurricane Sally lashes Orange Beach, Gulf Shores: See the fierce winds, storm surge, downpour

There were no injuries at the lab. But Shelley Stephens, Valentine’s executive assistant, said three buildings, including a graduate student dorm, had been “significantly damaged” in the storm.

Offices used by scientists at the facility also saw their offices suffer damage. The storm was another blow to a facility reeling from the pandemic.

“COVID dealt us a financial blow,” Stephens said. “We’re sitting at a $1.2 million loss from COVID. On top of this damage caused by Hurricane Sally, we’re in very compromised position.”

Storm damage caused by Hurricane Sally at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab on Sept. 16, 2020. John Valentine, the director of Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said the facility experienced significant damage from the storm.

3:12 p.m.: Strong winds, heavy rain will continue as Sally moves northeast

Strong winds and heavy rain are expected to continue as Tropical Storm Sally moves northeast through central Alabama, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham said the radar estimates show 3 to 4 inches of rain has already fallen across some of the southern counties and several more inches are possible. 

Earlier today, public works crews in Birmingham cleared creeks to prevent potential flooding in anticipation of the storm. The city has closed the Sixth Avenue South Bridge, located in the 700 block of Sixth Avenue, and the viaduct at Messer Airport, at 32nd Street, because of the potential for heavy rains. 

Florala, Lockhart, and Bradley in Alabama are under a Flash Flood Warning until 5 p.m. Central Time.

2:35 p.m.: More than 175,000 Alabama Power customers are without power

More than 175,000 Alabama Power customers are without power because of the storm, Alabama Power announced after 2 p.m. Wednesday. The vast majority of disruptions are in the Mobile area.

Specific to central Alabama, approximately 3,000 customers are without power as of 2 p.m.:

  • Butler County -1100 customers 
  • Elmore County – 600 customers
  • Montgomery County – 500 customers
  • Wilcox County – 490 customers
  • Autauga County – 170 customers
  • Lowndes County – 150 customers

If your power is out, FEMA suggests keeping freezers and fridges closed, to turn off electronics to avoid damage from urges, and to place generators outside. Generators should be placed at least 20 feet away from the home.

2:13 p.m.: City of Orange Beach extends curfew

The City of Orange Beach has extended its curfew until 8 a.m. Thursday.

Citizens are asked to not get on roadways. The Orange Beach Police Department suggests residents can help by checking on neighbors and others nearby. 

Residents are allowed on the island to assess property damage. 

2 p.m.: Tornado watch remains for counties in Alabama, Florida

A tornado watch remains valid until 6 p.m. Central Time. 

This includes five counties in Alabama and 13 counties in Florida: Coffee, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla, Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Walton and Washington. 

1:30 p.m. Covington County roads deemed impassable 

Covington County deemed all county roads impassable at 1 p.m. and stopped traffic. The cities of Andalusia and Opp had shut down all traffic on their roads by noon.

Emergency Management Agency Director Susan Harris said there were no reports of injuries but that several roads were damaged and couldn’t be repaired until fallen trees were cleared away. She said county roads would remain closed to traffic “until this event is over.”

1:23 p.m.: Sally downgraded to a tropical storm

Slowing winds have dropped Sally into tropical storm status, the Pensacola News Journal reports. 

Winds have since slowed to 70 mph, dropping Sally into tropical-storm status, according to a 1 p.m. report from the National Hurricane Center. Sally is moving north-northeast near 5 mph, and is expected to move even more quickly away from the Gulf region through the day.

Additional weakening is expected as the center moves farther inland this afternoon and tonight, and Sally is forecast to become a tropical depression by Thursday morning.

The storm is expected to move inland across the western Florida Panhandle and southeastern Alabama today into Thursday, then into central Georgia on Thursday before heading into South Carolina on Thursday night.

Turning more east as it made its way, the storm is predicted to bring life-threatening storm surge to the coastal region and extensive flooding throughout south and central Alabama. 

Alabama’s USA Today Network and its partners are gathering information across the Gulf Coast. Follow here for updates as Tropical Storm Sally makes landfall and tracks across the state.

12:55 p.m.: Aligator seen outside Gulf Shores home, captured on camera

An alligator, believed to be 10 to 12 feet in length, was seen outside a home in Gulf Shores on Plash Island earlier today and recorded on video.

The video, from Tina Bennett, was shared on Twitter by WKRG meteorologist Thomas Geboy.

“Another reason to SHELTER IN PLACE until flood waters recede. Not only are there downed power lines, but there’s also displaced wildlife. This 10-12 ALLIGATOR was just outside of a house in Gulf Shores on Plash Island earlier this morning,” Geboy wrote in the post.

Take a look:

12:30 p.m.: Major to catastrophic flooding is occurring in Baldwin County

Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency stated that major to catastrophic flooding is occurring in Baldwin County. The flooding is impacting many areas and roads.

“This is an extremely dangerous situation. Please do not travel on area roadways unless you have an emergency. Leave the roads clear for emergency personnel,” Baldwin County EMA said in a social media post.

Daphne Police Department stated it is finding widespread road blockages and downed powerlines. Nearby city of Fairhope also reported similar instances.

“We are on Young Street right now, but this is the type of scene we have all over our city. See that power line down? So far this morning we have had instances of residents becoming very irate that they are not allowed to pass through as our guys are diligently trying to clear roads to assess damage. Please stay off the roads and let our crews do their jobs. We can not restore any services or secure your safety until we are allowed to safely do our jobs,” the City of Fairhope posted on Facebook.

Across the bay, trees are rooted and toppled in downtown Mobile. In images shared online, some businesses appear to have busted window fronts while tree limbs are scattered on sidewalks and grassy areas.

A spokesman for the Mobile Police Department said the city had gotten reports of downed trees, power outages, and damages to roofs and vehicles.

But Cpl.

But Cpl. Ryan Blakely, a public information officer for the department, said early Wednesday afternoon that there had been no reports of flooding.

“There’s a good side and a bad side of a storm, and I think we got the good side of the storm,” he said.

Ryan Blakely, a public information officer for the department, said early Wednesday afternoon that there had been no reports of flooding.

“There’s a good side and a bad side of a storm, and I think we got the good side of the storm,” he said.

11:25 a.m.: Gov. Ivey reminds Alabamians to stay off the roads

Gov. Kay Ivey urged Alabamians impacted by Sally to heed weather expert and local officials.

“Likewise, I am remaining in constant communication with local officials along our coastal areas, and I have assured them – as well as pledge to all Alabamians – that we will provide every resource possible from the state level in order to help folks recover in the days and weeks ahead,” Ivey said. “The Alabama National Guard is standing by to assist, as is the Alabama Department of Transportation, ALEA and every other state partner. We are ready to respond however and wherever needed.”

Ivey said the slow-moving nature of Sally could make it more difficult for repair crews to restore power and water services. 

“Please, please refrain from getting on our roads to go check on storm damage unless you absolutely have to; even then, I urge everyone to use all caution. The best thing is for people to remain home if at all possible,” she said. “As our first responders are working diligently around the clock, please remember to only call 911 for a life-threatening emergency. At this time, we have to utilize our first responders for the most critical needs. Stay safe, and stay smart. We will be with you the whole way, Alabama!”

11:10 a.m.: Power outages roll across southern Alabama, Florida panhandle

Wide spread power outages are reported in Coffee and Covington counties, according to the Covington Electric Cooperative. Crews are out making repairs, but work may be suspended if weather conditions worsen.

Baldwin County is now reporting up to 97% outages while neighboring Escambia County in Florida is reporting about 83% of customers without power and Mobile with 63%. 

Mike Jordan, a spokesman with Alabama Power said statewide there’s 160,000 customers without service the vast majority of whom are in the Mobile area.

North of the coastal counties, Escambia County, Alabama, reports 61% of people without power, Washington county with 36% out and Monroe with 37%. 

Outages are also crawling more inland. Conecuh is reporting 27% of customers without power, in Butler 15% of customers are without power and in Choctaw county about 12% are without power. Jordan said there are also about 900 customers in central Alabama, mostly in Wilcox County. 

10:45 a.m.: Flood warning issued for central Alabama rivers

The Tallapoosa River at the Tallapoosa Water plant affecting Montgomery and Elmore counties was at 8.5 feet, Wednesday morning. Flood stage is 25 feet. The river is expected to rise above flood stage Thursday morning and crest Friday morning.

The Alabama River at Montgomery affecting Autauga, Dallas, Elmore, Lowndes and Montgomery counties. Wednesday morning the level was 20.8 feet with flood stage at 35 feet. The river is expected to rise above flood stage Friday afternoon and go below flood stage Friday night.

The Alabama River at Selma affecting Dallas County. Wednesday morning the level was 18.8 feet with flood stage at 45 feet. The river is expected to rise above flood stage Saturday night and fall below flood stage Sunday morning.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the Pea River in Elba. Flood stage is 30 feet and the river is expected to crest at 41.8 feet on Friday morning and fall below flood stage Saturday night.

10:32 a.m.: ‘Dark, noisy’ Gulf Shores official’s account of riding out the hurricane

Sixteen years to the day after Hurricane Ivan caused “catastrophic” damage to Gulf Shores, Hurricane Sally appeared to have a smaller impact at first light on Wednesday. As of 9:30 a.m., Gulf Shores city officials had not received reports of fatalities or major medical conditions.  

Sally’s landfall was officially clocked at 4:45 a.m. in Gulf Shores, but Grant Brown, the city’s public information officer, said conditions worsened around 3 a.m. and continued at their peak for nearly two hours.

“It was horrible,” Brown said. “I don’t ever want to go through it again. It was dark, noisy, and the windows were shaking.”

The city is experiencing flooding in two major areas as the back end of the storm makes its way over Alabama’s coast. Brown said the recent Hurricane Laura heavily impacted the dune structure along the coast line.

“You can imagine with wet soil conditions and high winds, we have a significant tree problem. We have trees down over roadways, on people’s homes. We have significant flooding conditions in two different areas,” Brown said. “Hurricane Laura reduced our primary dune structure. Now, with the storm surge plus all of the water, the backside of the storm is pushing water back up on our beaches again. The dune system in numerous locations has failed because of a lack of sand, so water is now pushed from the Gulf up into the roadways, under condominiums and beach houses. We’ve heard of minor structural damage to the buildings, as you would expect.”

More flooding is happening inland from the beach: The Intracoastal Waterway, which Brown said typically serves to help drain water away from the city’s residential neighborhoods, is at the highest levels he’s ever seen. The waterway is pushing water back into the neighborhoods, Brown said, the majority of which have lost power.

In hindsight, Brown said, officials think a mandatory evacuation order in low-lying areas might have been needed. City and state officials strongly recommended evacuation from flood-prone areas early this week, but Gulf Shores emergency officials received multiple calls for high-water rescues in the height of the storm on Wednesday morning, when conditions were too dangerous to respond.

Brown said authorities waited for the eye to pass over, giving a brief respite in weather conditions, before making “more than 10” high-water rescues, some of which included multiple people.

“We continually said this was going to be a historic flooding event, water will be in places that you’ve never seen before,” Brown said. “The good news it was rain water, so it wasn’t as deadly of a storm surge. … When you do mandatory evacuations you get people’s attention a little quicker. Every time we have an event like this, we take notes during and after so we can go back and change best practices.”

The city is optimistic about making a full recovery, Brown said.

“We’ve been down this road, unfortunately, a bunch of times,” he said. “Our city has a very strong and healthy budget and reserve fund, so we will be able to survive and clean up and help our residents get back to their normal daily lives.”

A building was heavily damaged near Gulf Shores Parkway.

10:15 a.m.: Portion of Three Mile Bridge into Gulf Breeze collapses

A newly opened, million dollar bridge from downtown Pensacola into Gulf Breeze has partially collapsed.

More:Three Mile Bridge suffers massive damage after Hurricane Sally topples crane, section missing

The Three Mile Bridge was struck Tuesday morning by a Shanska construction barge after it broke loose struck a fishing pier and lodged itself under the new bridge, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

The bridge was closed about 9 a.m. due in part to the barge and tropical storm force winds. 

The collapse has temporarily trapped people in Gulf Breeze as the Garcon Bridge is closed due to flooding and rain. 

According to the PNJ, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan is warning residents to stay away from the bridge. Photographs posted on social media indicate a crane fell on the bridge and knocked away a section of the road.

The Florida Department of Transportation said it has been unable to assess any possible damage to the bridge due to ongoing high winds. A spokesperson for the department said crews will be dispatched to assess the situation once conditions are safer.

9:50 a.m.: Montgomery man watches helplessly from afar

From his home in Montgomery, Joe Whatley was paying close attention as Hurricane Sally tore through Orange Beach, where he’s had a condo for 20 years. He’s been in touch with friends who rode the storm out Wednesday at his unit.

“To quote them, they said ‘It’s scary as hell,’” Whatley said. “One of them lives in a house about a half mile from my condo down there, and she had over five foot of water in her house.” 

Whatley last saw his condo on Monday after a weekend trip there. He’s waiting on word from Orange Beach officials about when he’d be allowed to return. 

A boat and debris were washed into a building in Orange Beach on Wednesday.

Early Wednesday, the city of Orange Beach released a statement that a curfew was in effect until noon, and would likely be extended to all day as they assess the damage. Life threatening flooding and surge were expected to persist into the afternoon.

“The streets are covered up with pilings, piers, vehicles and whatnot,” Whatley said. “It’s not pretty.” 

Photos friends of Whatley sent to him from the scene show much damage near the beach, with debris and a section of Gulf State Park Pier missing. Several boats were washed ashore. 

“I have a friend over in Pensacola Beach. He lost a car, a pickup, boat, generator, golf cart, and has a tree through his roof,” Whatley said. “He had about six feet of water to come in. Actually more than that. The carpets were floating in his second floor.” 

As bad as it looks, it could be worse. Whatley said Sally was milder than Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

“(Hurricane) Ivan hit us on the same day 16 years ago,” Whatley said. “It tore my place (in Orange Beach) to pieces then. It took a year to put it back together.” 

Whatley has also gone through storms over the past 48 years with his place in Panama City. 

“This whole earth and seas all belong to God,” Whatley said. “He just lets us share them as long as we need to. If we’ve got to rebuild, we just rebuild and go on.”

Steve Malbis, a friend of Whatley, rode out the storm in Orange Beach.

“It is devastation down here,” Malbis said. “I haven’t seen nothing like it. My house got totaled… It’s going to be a long recovery.”

9:41 a.m.: Baldwin County water customers asked to conserve 

Riviera Utilities, a water company that serves Baldwin County, has asked customers to conserve water. 

According to their most recent information, there is “considerable damage” with roughly 41,000 meters without power. Crews will continue restoration efforts as long as conditions are safe, the company said. 

9:40 a.m.: National Weather Service warns of tree damage in Sally’s winds

The National Weather Service warned of falling trees in the wake of Sally’s wrath. 

According to the NWS, double-digit rainfall totals, like ones seen in coastal Alabama and the panhandle, coupled with wind gusts up to 80 mph stress trees in those areas. Falling trees are an increasing threat to life and property. 

Ride out storms in an interior room away from windows and exterior walls on the first floor, the NWS said. 

9:30 a.m.: New Gulf Shores business owner relieved business still standing

Micheal Edmonds, a Gulf Shores resident, lost power during the night. A recent transplant to the city, he went at first light to check on his business, a juice and smoothie bar which sustained some exterior damage but appeared undamaged inside the building.

Edmonds shared photos of extensive tree damage near his apartment complex, located about 5 miles inland from the beach, with some trees snapped into the parking lot. Others were fully uprooted, with at least one toppled onto a parked car. Most traffic lights in the area are down, Edmonds said.

Gulf Shores officials have not yet returned request for comment, but Baldwin County’s Emergency Management Agency said in a social media statement that they’ve received “lots of information” about damages and debris Wednesday morning.

“DO NOT attempt to travel along the roadways,” BCEMA posted on Twitter. “Dangerous conditions still exist.”

9:20 a.m.: Reports of trees down as far north as Covington County

By 9 a.m., Covington County was reporting trees down and standing water over several roadways.

Emergency Management Agency Director Susan Harris said workers were trying to clear the roads but were being slowed by the storm. Winds were gusting over 40 miles per hour.

There were no reports of damage or injuries. “Right now, we’re just in standby mode,” Harris said.

She pleaded for residents to help by staying indoors during the storm.

“Just stay home,” she said. “Just stay off the roads and give road crews time to work.”

The Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency is urging residents to stay at home due to downed trees and  flooded roads throughout the county. There are areas which have recorded 20 inches of rain by 8 a.m., with forecasts of some places likely getting 35 inches plus as a total for the storm.

The EMA id predicting dangerous flooding countywide. The Fish River is predicted to reach “major” flood stage later Wednesday. There has been “severe widespread damage,” from Hurricane Sally.

9:10 a.m.: Damage reports move north as Sally crawls inland

The center of Hurricane Sally is slowly moving near the Alabama and Florida state line causing heavy inundation and flash flooding situations, according to an update from the National Hurricane Service. 

Sally’s impact inland is quickly becoming apparent as the storm moves along.  

Buck Bryant’s yard outside of Loxely is littered with shingles, likely a mix from his home and neighbors. Loxely is about 30 miles inland in northern Baldwin County. He rode the storm out with his wife and mother-in-law. A veteran of storms on the coast he decided stay for Sally instead of evacuating to his sister’s home in Selma.

A downed tree pins a car in Gulf Shores, Alabama, after Hurricane Sally made landfall on Sept. 16, 2020.

At 8:30 a.m. he was wondering if he made the right decision. The winds have downed trees in the neighborhood and they have been without power since about 10 p.m. Tuesday.

“The problem with leaving is getting back home,” the 54-year-old said. “You get back home and you don’t have gas in the vehicle. But staying means a different kind of anxiety. You’re up all night listening to the house creaking and popping and wondering if the roof is going to go. From about midnight to 4 o’clock it was really rocking and rolling.

It was a rough night.”

The ridge cap of the roof is gone, and buckets were spaced around the home catching leaks.

“I’m just waiting for it to calm down enough to get outside and maybe put a tarp or sheeting on the worst parts of the roof,” he said.

8:10 a.m.: Damage reports flooding in across coastal communities

Social media reports are rolling in with reports of trees down, heavily flooded areas and excessive damage across coastal Alabama and Florida. 

Mobile police have closed the I-10 Bayway until weather conditions improve. 

7:45 a.m.: Rescues underway, heavy damage to homes, businesses in Baldwin County

Rescue crews are working to pull people from their homes damaged by Hurricane Sally and in the midst of massive flooding, Senior Forecaster David Eversole with the National Weather Service in Mobile said. 

“There’s two flash flood emergencies currently in affect for coastal Baldwin over to Fort Walton Beach,” he said. “Those products are the result of water in homes and people having to be rescued. It’s a rare product, a flash flood emergency. I’ve only seen about a dozen issued.”

Eversole said he’s gotten reports of damage to several condos in the Gulf Shores area, as well as damage to the Surf Shop and Pink Pony Pub. 

“We know people are being rescued and we know there is severe property damage,” he said. 

Sally has also dumped a lot of rain on the panhandle. Northwest Pensacola reported 30 inches before 8 a.m., Eversole said. 

“In Dac, Florida, they’ve reported 19.71 inches, and in Silver Hill, Alabama, there’s been 11.26 inches,” he said. “Those are really preliminary and we expect the totals to increase significantly.”

Eversole said the initial rainfall reports are the result of Sally’s slow speed but also its intensity. Making landfall as a category 2, the storm was only about 5 to 6 mph shy of being a category 3, the meteorologist said. 

“There’s huge wind damage. A lot of rain and dangers of flash flooding,” Eversole said. “Live footage from Pensacola showed cars under water. Houses in Orange Beach have water in them. There’s a warehouse in Elsanor, Alabama that’s completely gone.”

7:10 a.m.: Hurricane Sally slowly moves north

According to the latest National Hurricane Center briefing, Sally is now about 25 miles north of Gulf Shores where it made landfall shortly before 5 a.m. 

The storm, as it has continued to do, is moving slowly at about 3 mph north-northeast. 

“A north-northeastward to northeastward motion at a slightly faster forward speed is expected later today and tonight, followed by a faster northeastward motion on Thursday,” according to the center’s briefing. “On the forecast track, the center of Sally will move across the extreme western Florida panhandle and southeastern Alabama through early Thursday, and move over central Georgia Thursday afternoon through Thursday night.”

As Sally continues to move and the sun comes up, images of the storm’s wrath are beginning to make their way to social media. Debris in Orange Beach sloshed against some condos as a boat floated its way between some of the buildings. 

7 a.m.: River levels rise following Sally’s landfall

While storm surge is of great concern in coastal communities, river levels are rapidly rising too creating a dangerous situation across the area, according to the National Weather Service in Mobile. 

The Fish and Styx rivers in Baldwin County were nearing moderate flood levels as of 6 a.m., according to the Southeast River Forecast Center. Further inland, Murder Creek in Brewton had just begun to rise. 

6:16 a.m.: Power outages extend

Nearly all of Baldwin County has been plunged into darkness. 

According to reported power outages, about 96% of customers are without power following Sally’s landfall there. But outages are not isolated to Baldwin County.

Mobile County is now reporting over 57% of customers without power and Escambia County, Florida has about 72% of customers without power.

Further into Alabama, Escambia County, Alabama is now reporting about 43% of it’s customers are without power, while Washington County reports 11% of customers are without power and there is about 16% without power in Monroe County. 

Keep track of outages here. 

6:10 a.m. Hurricane force winds spreading inland

According to a 6 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, hurricane force winds are now spreading inland. Sustained winds of 81 mph and gusts up to 99 mph have been recorded at Dauphin Island within the past hour. 

Pensacola Naval Air Station recorded sustained winds of 61 mph and gusts up to 86 mph, according to the report. 

The storm continues to move at a sluggish 3 mph, according to the update. 

The NHC warned of life-threatening flooding and storm surge. Reed Timmer, a meteorologist and storm chaser, shared a video of violent gusts and water inundating the area he was in at Gulf Shores at 3:30 a.m. 

6 a.m.: Tornado watch issued for inland communities

According to the National Weather Service in Mobile, several inland Alabama communities are now under a tornado watch. 

The watch stretches from Escambia County, Alabama to the eastern state line including Conecuh, Covington, Coffee, Geneva, Dale, Henry and Houston counties. The watch also includes several Florida panhandle counties and and some southwest Georgi

5:55 a.m.: Sally 8th named storm to make landfall in 2020

Hurricane Sally set a record as the eighth named storm to make landfall in the contiguous U.S. in 2020, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University who specializes in Atlantic basin seasonal hurricanes. 

 The previous record was set at seven named storms through September 16 in 1916, according to Klotzbach. 

5:50 a.m.: About 87% of Baldwin County without power

About 87% of Baldwin County is without power in the wake of Hurricane Sally. The storm made landfall in Gulf Shores about 4:45 a.m. 

Neighboring Mobile County has only reported about 37% of customers without power while Escambia County in Florida has reported about 33%. 

Track the latest power outages with this interactive map. 

More:See Alabama power outage map as Hurricane Sally approaches landfall

5:45 a.m.: Orange Beach officials extend curfew amid life-threatening conditions 

The city of Orange Beach is “experiencing life threatening conditions as a result of Hurricane Sally nearing shore,” according to a tweet from the police department. 

The city will extend their curfew to at least noon Wednesday, but will likely be extended all day as crews assess any damage. 

The police and fire department were “inundated with calls” and asked for understanding as they work. 

5 a.m. Wednesday: Sally makes landfall in Gulf Shores

Hurricane Sally made landfall at 4:45 a.m. in Gulf Shores as a category 2 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center. This is the first hurricane to make landfall in Alabama since Ivan did on the same day in the same place in 2004. 

As the storm moves across southeastern Alabama, it’s expected to leave 4 to 8 inches of rain with 12 inches possible in isolated areas, according to the center. 

“Significant flash and urban flooding is likely, as well as widespread minor to moderate flooding on some rivers,” the center said. 

Dauphin Island across to the Okaloosa and Walton County, Florida line is expected to see between 4 and 7 feet of storm surge. Mobile Bay could see between 2 and 4 feet. Surge will be accompanied by large and damaging waves, according to the center. 

Sally threatens to further erode Dauphin Island

Hurricane Sally is predicted to carry 6 to 9 feet of storm surge to Dauphin Island where the elevation is only about 7 feet. 

Erosion has been a fact of life on Dauphin Island since the late 1950s, and past storms have done major damage.

George Crozier, a retired director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said the west end of the island could be underwater during the storm and it could erode the beaches and push sand from the western end of the island toward the north. Dauphin Island might not sink into the ocean, but gradually shift north. 

More: Erosion a top concern for those on Alabama’s Dauphin Island

Live look:Gulf Shores and Dauphin Island webcams show live conditions

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Kirsten Fiscus at 334-318-1798 or KFiscus@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @KDFiscus

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