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Hurricane Sally's rains wreak havoc on southeastern US states, at least one dead

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
JJ McNelis tries to recover some items from his building after Hurricane Sally swept through, at Perdido Key, Florida, September 17, 2020. (Reuters photo)

The remnants of Hurricane Sally dumped more than a foot of rain over the US Southeast on Thursday, killed at least one person, washed out bridges and roads and left hundreds of thousands without power and others with ruined homes.

Sally brought torrential rains and flash flooding to Alabama and Georgia as it sped toward the Carolinas. At 5 p.m. CDT (2200 GMT), it was about 70 miles (115 km) northeast of Augusta, Georgia, moving northeast toward the Atlantic Ocean at 24 miles (39 km) per hour, the US National Hurricane Center said.

JJ McNelis, 64, who co-owns a real estate office in Florida's Perdido Key, tried to salvage equipment and personal items, including pictures of his children, after the hurricane ripped away the building's roof and flung it into neighboring property.

"We anticipated a hurricane," he said. "We didn't expect a direct hit. We thought we'd show up the next day and have a building standing but lo and behold, that's not the case."

A view of the damage caused by Hurricane Sally on Navarre beach, Florida, September 16. (Reuters photo)

He said he had already decided against rebuilding: "Somebody else can have this. It's jinxed now."

Sally struck Gulf Shores, Alabama, early Wednesday with winds of 105 miles per hour, killing one person. Another person was reported missing.

Some areas were inundated with more than 2 feet (60 cm) of rain. Pensacola, Florida, east of landfall, experienced up to 5 feet of flooding, and damaged roads and bridges limited travel across the region. Some 433,000 homes and businesses in Alabama, Georgia and Florida remained without power.

Ruined homes

Lee Hayes, 56, a security officer, held her dog Rico close as she recounted losing an entire side wall of her home in Perdido Key overnight.

She had been ready to leave at any moment, her kayak on her couch inside, both she and her dog wearing life jackets.

Chris Cote, middle, Rickie Sexton, and her husband David Sexton, move a grill near their neighbors trailer which was destroyed by Hurricane Sally, on Dauphin Island, Alabama, September 16. (Reuters photo)

"I'm like: 'okay, we're not going to drown, we're not going to drown,'" she said. She recalled going outside to check the water surging beneath her deck. "The door slammed and locked. It was just such a force the whole wall blew out. I couldn't get back in. It was really scary."

In Florida, there have been no deaths but 120 people were rescued by state emergency workers and National Guard members with boats and high water vehicles. Officials were conducting evaluating bridges for damage in the state's Panhandle, said Governor Ron DeSantis.

Utility crews and residents made repairs and cleared storm debris after Sally washed out roads and bridges and left dozens of boats pushed ashore.

Fuel prices rose again on Thursday as six US refineries were offline and OPEC promised to crack down on members that produced more than their allotment. Gasoline futures rose 3% to near the high for the month.

Utilities began restoring power to Alabama and Florida with crews brought from far-flung states.

An US flag flies from a boat damaged by Hurricane Sally in Pensacola, Florida, September 16. (Reuters photo)

“This year we’ve just got hurricane after hurricane,” said Matt Lane, 23, a member of a crew from New Hampshire Electric Co-op who arrived on Tuesday from Hurricane Laura recovery efforts in Texas.

Another storm brewing

Sally was the 18th named storm in the Atlantic this year and the eighth of tropical storm of hurricane strength to hit the United States.

A tropical disturbance was brewing in the southern Gulf of Mexico on Thursday that has a 90% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours. Two other named storms were in the Atlantic, making this one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record.

Energy companies were returning Gulf of Mexico offshore oil crews and assessing damages to coastal facilities. Several said their facilities weathered the storm and were preparing to restart.

(Source: Reuters)

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