Sally Downgraded To A Tropical Storm But Still Producing Major Rainfall
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Sally has been downgraded to a tropical depression and is now on a path inland that will take the storm through Georgia and the Carolinas. But the storm system is still bringing a whole lot of rain with it.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Residents of Gulf Shores, Ala., are now dealing with the aftermath of that rain. As Hurricane Sally passed directly overhead there, it brought winds over 100 mph and dumped more than 20 inches of rain.
GRANT BROWN: The wind and the trees and the pine cones and the branches are pelting your home, and it's a very scary situation.
MARTIN: That's Grant Brown, a longtime resident of Gulf Shores and the town's public information officer. For five hours, he says, emergency responders couldn't answer distress calls from residents as waters rose around their homes. It was just too windy. Instead, they had to wait out the storm at home. Brown listened down the line as calls came in.
BROWN: There was a gentleman. He's a paraplegic. He can't move. And to have that feeling that you can't immediately go to help somebody that's that helpless, it's pretty disheartening.
GREENE: We should say the waters are now receding, but there is so much work to do.
BROWN: We have power line poles that are laying on the ground with wires over roadways. So we need to get the power company's help to lift up the power lines so that it's safe for people to start returning to their homes.
MARTIN: In Pensacola, 26-year-old Carissa White (ph) was hunkered down in the living room with her young children. Her cousin and her kids were with them, too. She says Hurricane Sally was loud.
CARISSA WHITE: The roof kept, like, lifting up and falling back down before it finally collapsed. And all you hear, like, was the roof going boom-boom, like, lifting up and collapsing back down. And I'm like, oh, my God (ph).
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (Unintelligible).
(SOUNDBITE OF WIND NOISE, RAINFALL)
GREENE: She took this video of the damage. Part of the roof completely collapsed, blocking the front door. And in her yard, heavy branches snapped off trees, blocking her back door.
WHITE: Yeah, we were trapped in our house for, like, four hours. We called 911. They told us they couldn't help us. I have a 4-month-old, and my cousin has an 11-month-old. I was like, we have to get out.
GREENE: In that moment, she says, she and her cousin were on their own.
WHITE: I don't know. Like, our mommy mode just, like, kicked in, and we went out through our back door. We had to push all the trees out from the back door.
GREENE: And they escaped. White and her cousin and the six kids are now safe at her aunt's house. But when she is able to return home, she's not really sure what she'll come back to.
WHITE: And the house is, like, gone. Like, you can't live in it. So whatever's left in there - I mean, like, we literally packed up - like, all of us have, like, three changes of clothes, one pair of shoes that we have on our feet. That's what we got left.
MARTIN: Both Gulf Shores and Pensacola have seen plenty of hurricanes before. In fact, Sally struck land 16 years ago to the day after Hurricane Ivan swept the coast in 2004. This time, things were different. Here's Grant Brown again.
BROWN: What Ivan, 16 years ago, didn't pack a punch of was this rain and this slow movement to the shore, which then created the flooding from our Intracoastal Waterway and from the bays and the rivers.
GREENE: That was Grant Brown in Gulf Shores, Ala. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.