Death toll from Southern storms rises as heavy rains flood Florida, Alabama


Vehicles rest at the bottom of a ravine after the Scenic Highway collapsed near Pensacola, Fla., on April 30. (Katie E. King/Pensacola News Journal via AP)

A massive storm system that has pounded parts of the South and Midwest this week continued on its path of destruction Tuesday night, dropping upwards of 10 inches of rain on parts of the Florida panhandle and southern Alabama.

Tornadoes from the deadly storms Monday and Tuesday left at least 35 people dead in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi. In the Florida panhandle, one woman who apparently drove her vehicle into deep water was reported dead in Pensacola, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The storms overnight brought heavy rainfall, massive flooding and tornado warnings to parts of the region.

By morning, some incredible images were being posted on social media of roads demolished by the high waters and severe weather, flooded homes and stranded vehicles.

The situation is so bad that officials are calling it the worst flood in that part of the state in 30 years, according to Bill Pearson, a spokesman for Escambia County, which includes Pensacola. The National Weather Service reported between 15 and 20 inches of rain in Pensacola in 24 hours as of Wednesday morning. And as many as 30,000 were left without power in the panhandle.

“It’s gotten to the point where we can’t send EMS and fire-rescue crews out on some 911 calls because they can’t get there,” Pearson told the Associated Press. “We’ve had people whose homes are flooding and they’ve had to climb up to the attic.”

In Alabama, “non-stop” precipitation produced nearly a dozen inches of rain by Wednesday morning. First responders resorted to using boats to rescue the stranded.  And the National Guard is expected to send high-wheeled vehicles to Pensacola to help with rescue efforts, according to the AP.

Social media users in Florida and North Carolina posted videos of the extreme flooding in their neighborhoods. (Nicki DeMarco/The Washington Post)

 

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip
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