Sep 17, 2020
After Sally: rescue, recovery and a wary eye on rivers
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PENSACOLA, Fla. – Rivers swollen by Hurricane Sally's rains threatened more misery for some residents of the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama on Thursday, even as the storm's remnants were forecast to dump as much as a foot of rain and spread the threat of flooding to Georgia and the Carolinas.
Coastal residents, meanwhile, looked to begin the recovery from a storm that turned streets into rivers, ripped roofs off buildings, knocked out power to hundreds of thousands and killed at least one person.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned residents and visitors in flooded areas that they would need to remain vigilant as water from the hurricane subsides, because heavy rains to the north were expected to cause flooding in Panhandle rivers in the coming days.
“So this is kind of the initial salvo, but there is going to be more that you’re going to have to contend with,” DeSantis said at a Wednesday news conference in Tallahassee.
At least one death was blamed on the hurricane. Orange Beach, Alabama, Mayor Tony Kennon told The Associated Press one person in the popular vacation spot died and another was missing as a result of the storm. He said he could not immediately release details.
Sally blew ashore near Gulf Shores, Alabama, Wednesday morning as a major hurricane with 105 mph (165 kph) winds. It moved slowly, exacerbating the effect of heavy rains. More than 2 feet (61 centimeters) fell near Naval Air Station Pensacola, and nearly 3 feet (1 meter) of water covered streets in downtown Pensacola, the National Weather Service reported.
Some Pensacola streets looked like rivers with whitecaps at times. The waters swamped parked cars before receding.
Sally weakened to a tropical depression late Wednesday and picked up speed. The National Hurricane Center said the system was moving through southeast Alabama, would cross over central Georgia on Thursday and reach South Carolina on Thursday night. Flash flooding and some river flooding was possible in each state.
The forecasts called for 4 inches (10 centimeters) to 8 inches (29 centimeters) of rain in southeast Alabama and central Georgia by Thursday night, with up to 1 foot (30 centimeters) in some spots, posing a threat of significant flash flooding and “minor to moderate” river floods.
In South Carolina, as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain was possible; in North Carolina, up to 8 inches. Some flash flooding and river flooding was a possibility in those states, the weather service said.
Kennon said the damage in Orange Beach was worse than that from Hurricane Ivan, which hit 16 years to the day earlier. In a Facebook briefing for city residents, Kennon said distribution points would be established Thursday for water, ice and tarps.
“It was an unbelievably freaky right turn of a storm that none of us ever expected,” Kennon said of Sally, which once appeared to have New Orleans in its sights.
Well over a half-million homes and businesses were without electricity in Alabama and Florida, according to the poweroutages.us website. Many faced extended time without power. “We don't want to sugar coat this; we're in it for the long haul,” one utility posted on social media.
At least eight waterways in south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle were expected to hit major flood stage by Thursday. Some of the crests could break records, submerge bridges and flood some homes, the National Weather Service warned. Included in the warnings were the Styx and Fish rivers, Murder Creek and Big Escambia Creek. In Florida, major crests were expected on the Perdido, Blackwater, Shoal and Yellow rivers, forecasters said.
Brewton, Alabama, a city of about 5,200, can expect moderate to major flooding, said meteorologist Steve Miller of the National Weather Service office in Mobile. Silverhill, an Alabama town of about 1,200, was threatened by the Fish River, which had crested, and Seminole, an Alabama village on the Florida state line, by the still rising Styx River, Miller said.
As a hurricane, Sally tore loose a barge-mounted construction crane, which then smashed into the new Three Mile Bridge over Pensacola Bay, causing a section of the year-old span to collapse, authorities said. The storm also ripped away a large section of a fishing pier at Alabama’s Gulf State Park on the very day a ribbon-cutting had been scheduled following a $2.4 million renovation.
The hurricane center was tracking two other Atlantic storms: Hurricane Teddy, with a forecast track that could put it over Bermuda by Monday; and Tropical Storm Vicky, expected to dissipate in the Atlantic in the coming days.
Wang reported from Mobile, Alabama, and Martin, from Marietta, Georgia. Associated Press contributors include Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia; Sudhin Thanawala and Haleluya Hadero in Atlanta; Bobby Caina Calvan and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida; David Fischer in Miami; Rebecca Santana and Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans; and Julie Walker in New York.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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Dallas Officers, Residents Rescue Man From Burning Car After Crash
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Three Dallas officers, along with community members, rescued a man from a burning car after a multi-vehicle crash last weekend, and the officers shared the story of the events that unfolded.
Police said the officers were responding to a crash involving six vehicles in the 6900 block of Scyene Road at around 6:45 p.m. on Saturday. Callers had reported that one of the vehicles caught fire and that a man was trapped inside.
Two officers, who the department identified as Jonathan Calder and Jonathan Martinez, initially arrived and ran to help other residents pull the man out of the car.
“Immediately when we ran up to the vehicle, I looked inside. The car was almost engulfed completely. There was a man inside, he seemed unconscious,” Calder said. “… When I entered the vehicle, the smoke immediately took all vision away. It was pitch black darkness. It was hot like an oven, the car was melting and dripping onto me. And the seatbelt wouldn’t come off.”
“I jumped in there for a second, trying to get in. I felt something drip on me. Kind of inhaled a bunch of smoke. Right at that point I had to jump back out, just could feel the heat initially. Then my partner went back in…” Martinez said.
As Calder and Martinez were attempting the rescue, officer Israel Banales arrived to help.
“He [the victim] was kind of waking up and going unconscious… so, the passenger door we were able to get open and we were trying to say, ‘hey buddy, you gotta help us push up so we can pull you out the passenger door,'” Banales said.
“His [the victim’s] foot got stuck. And we were just pulling on him… I remember hearing, I believe it was my partner, saying, ‘we gotta get him out… he’s gonna die if we don’t pull him out,'” Martinez said.
Banales said one of the residents helping was able to cut the seatbelt with a knife, which led to them being able to pull the man out.
“I told the citizen there if it wasn’t for y’all, we wouldn’t have been able to take this on alone. Three officers alone pulling on this guy wouldn’t have made it. It was the combination of the citizens putting their lives on the line, getting close to that car, helping pull the gentleman out of the car using water, using their resources that they had,” Martinez said.
Police said the man was transported to a hospital with major burns to his body.
“It’s my job. I know everybody I work with in law enforcement would have done the exact same thing that I did,” Calder said.