Rain threat finally fades on Gulf Coast

2:03 PM, Jun 11, 2012   |    comments
Cars struggled with flooded roads Saturday in Pensacola. (CNN iReport)
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PENSACOLA, Fla. (CNN) -- Portions of southwest Alabama remained under a flood warning Monday as torrential rains that caused widespread flooding and millions of dollars in damage in coastal Alabama and Florida began to dissipate.

Authorities also warned of rip currents that could endanger anyone entering the surf along the Alabama and Florida coasts through Monday afternoon.

A thunderstorm early Monday dumped up to 2 inches of rain in Mobile and Baldwin counties in southwest Alabama, the National Weather Service said. Another 1.5 inches was possible, which could result in minor flooding. Bayou Sara in Saraland, Alabama, was also expected to flood, the agency said.

The area can still expect some more rain, CNN meteorologist Sarah Dillingham said.

"It's not going to be another deluge like they saw over the weekend," she said.

Through Sunday morning, some places in Alabama and Florida had received up to 22 inches of rain. West Pensacola received 21.7 inches, while Mobile, Alabama, saw between 5 and 10 inches. Some coastal areas, such as Destin, Florida, got about an inch.

Photos: More than a foot of water surges Pensacola

Officials in Escambia County, Florida, where Pensacola is located, expect damage to total more than $20 million.

Floodwaters up to 8 feet deep inundated the Forest Creek Apartments in the city.

"I walked out chin-deep in water," Lillian Murphy told CNN affiliate WEAR TV. The floodwater submerged her car and almost reached the roof of her apartment. "I don't know who to call or who to contact."

Along with Escambia County, a state of emergency was also in effect in Santa Rosa County, Florida.

Lightning struck a boy in Gulf Shores, Alabama, on Sunday, leaving him hospitalized in critical condition.

"As soon as the lightning bolt hit, everyone hit the ground and took off running," lifeguard Justin Pearce told CNN affiliate WPMI TV. "Then we saw a person laying by the edge of the water."

The family identified the victim as Landon Broussard of Delcambre, Louisiana.

Additionally, several roads and bridges, as well as a number of homes and businesses, were damaged.

One of the structures affected was the Escambia County Jail in Pensacola. Its central booking facility, where inmates are brought in, was under about 6 feet of water at one point over the weekend, according to Escambia County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mike Ward.

The main part of the jail, which houses 697 inmates, lost power in the storm, Ward said. But temporary power was brought in, and efforts continued to get the air conditioning back on. The spokesman said security at the jail was never compromised.

Flash flooding made parts of some roadways impassable, with some reporting waters rising more than 6 feet in spots.

Leroy Bonifay, 90, told CNN affiliate WALA that he and his grandson got stuck along Airport Boulevard in Pensacola when water "washed up over my hood and drowned my engine." It climbed even higher, up to the windows, before two bystanders came to their rescue.

"I have never seen it get this high in this area before," Bonifay said. "It's tough, but we'll make it out all right."

(CNN)

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