Slow-moving Hurricane Sally made landfall on Wednesday, with Pensacola feeling the worst of its wrath. The devastating impact of the storm stretched from the Florida Panhandle to the shores of Mobile Bay, Ala.
According to the chief of the Pensacola Fire Department, Escambia County had more than 30 inches of rain in four hours — the equivalent of four typical months of rain in less than one day.
The National Weather Service issued a flash food emergency “for severe threat to human life.” The streets of downtown Pensacola were submerged in water that in places was more than waist-high. The lasting effects of the hurricane include the Three Mile Bridge missing a piece of the infrastructure due to the storm. The newly built Pensacola Bay Bridge connects with the city of Gulf Breeze.
Although many Florida A&M students from Pensacola are in Tallahassee for the semester, their families were directly impacted by the storm with power outages.
Noella Williams, a Pensacola native, is a fourth-year journalism major at FAMU. Williams was in Tallahassee when the storm hit her hometown, but her family was still without power as of Friday.
“My family is estimated to be without power for a week. As Floridians, we overlook the extensive damage that hurricanes can cause and how devastating they can be. It’s easy to get comfortable with minor tropical storms we receive every hurricane season, but every now and then, we receive one as destructive as Sally,” Williams said.
Williams’ family is one of an estimated 300,000 in Florida and Alabama without power, reported by the Poweroutage.us utility tracker.
Hurricane Sally struck 16 years to the date of the Category 3 Hurricane Ivan’s arrival in the Florida Panhandle. Ivan resulted in more than $27 billion in damages in the United States. According to the National Centers of Environmental Information, with winds up to 120 mph, Ivan was responsible for 57 deaths.
Kate Warrick, from Pensacola a second-year student studying food science at FAMU, is also from Pensacola. She says there needs to be better preventative measures in place for hurricanes.
“There could have been more dams put in place to prevent really bad flooding, because a lot of peoples’ homes went under,” Warrick said.
By Wednesday evening Hurricane Sally deescalated to a tropical depression. The storm is headed north and northeast toward the Carolinas and expected to veer off into the Atlantic Ocean. Mandatory evacuations were issued for some parts of the East Coast with the threat of Sally looming.