Flooding in Florida Panhandle force Residents to Flee – Brace for more Rain

January 9, 2013

Torrential rainfalls throughout the Florida Panhandle have damaged homes, businesses, closed roadways and cut off power – prompting residents to seek shelter elsewhere as they readied themselves for more rain.

The storm system that brought the heavy rains also spawned a tornado which knocked down trees and destroyed some out buildings in southeast Alabama. A few houses also sustained damage from the twister. Hundreds of inmates at a jail in Escambia County, Florida were left without power after more than five feet of floodwater filled the bottom floor. Workers spent Sunday pumping excess water out of the jail while extra guards were brought in to keep peace.

Pensacola got over 13 inches of rain Saturday and another 1.9 inches of Sunday. Mobile had nearly 6 inches Saturday with another 2.8 inches falling Sunday – so says the National Weather Service. In and around Gulf Breeze, Florida, dozens of homes were left flooded after storms dumped 4 feet of water there. A few car rescues were made and three swimmers were taken in for medical treatment after they became caught in fast moving flood waters. More rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast for Monday with up to 2 inches expected in some areas.

The American Red Cross’ Panama City chapter was on standby Sunday as officials in Pensacola struggled to deal with some of the worst flooding ever seen there. Many city streets and businesses were completely under water after more than 12 inches of rain fell.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s office has estimated at least $20 million in damages have occurred across the county. Flood damage assessment teams will be inspecting the affected portions of the county once the rains stop and the water recedes. Residents are being warned that they should evacuate now if they see high water in their area because the additional rain that’s on the way is expected to last at least through Monday morning. People are also being told not to leave their homes because many roads are completely impassable. The National Weather Service has said that the total projected rainfall for this weather event across Escambia County is between 20 and 30 inches of rain.

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