Hurricane Katrina's eastern edge slammed into the coastal Alabama city of Mobile, causing white-capped water surges that ripped an oil rig free from its moorings and flooded the downtown under several feet of water.
As the eastern part of the storm passed the coastal area of southwestern Alabama, Mobile Bay surged into Mobile River and overflowed into downtown Mobile, submerging cars and flooding buildings.
"It was a pretty damaging event," said Steve Huffman of the Mobile County Emergency Management Agency, speaking on CNN. "They were estimating we had eight-foot of water downtown. But it looked like more than that." The Mobile Register newspaper reported that there was an 11-to-12 foot storm surge at the Alabama state docks in downtown Mobile.
Huffman said 200,000 people were without power, food or water on that part of the Alabama coast.
"A lot of people are going to be displaced for quite a long period of time because of the flooding," Huffman said. No storm-related deaths or serious injuries were immediately reported in Alabama.
The surging water caused an oil rig to break free of its moorings and strike a large suspension bridge, forcing its closure, according to the Mobile Register. The paper reported Tuesday that beach areas still rebuilding from last year's Hurricane Ivan were again awash and that everything from fish camps to multimillion-dollar homes along Mobile Bay had taken in water at an alarming rate.
Police officers blocked entrances into Mobile Tuesday, according to washingtonpost.com videographers Ben de la Cruz and John Poole.
In the residential neighborhood of Magazine Point on the outskirts of Mobile, some residents went back Tuesday to assess the damage to their homes.
"It [the water] started coming up and we got out of Dodge," Robert Turner, who left his home during the Monday storm with his wife Kathleen, told the washingtonpost.com videographers. His pool and swing set were covered with water Tuesday and his backyard was full of debris that had washed up during the storm. The Turners said they would have to stay at a relative's house.
Neighbor Renee Ruggs said she, too, could not return to her home in Magazine Point.
"We've had floods, hurricanes and storms, but when the water comes into your house, this is the worst," Ruggs said, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years.