Hundreds rescued from floodwaters in Fla., Ala.
by Associated Press
Posted on April 30, 2014 at 1:55 PM
PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — People were plucked off rooftops or climbed into their attics to get away from fast-rising waters when nearly 2 feet of rain fell on the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast, the latest bout of violent weather that began with tornadoes in the Midwest.
In the Panhandle, roads were chewed up into pieces or wiped out entirely. Cars were submerged and neighborhoods were inundated, making rescues difficult for hundreds of people who called for help when they were caught off guard by the torrential rains in the span of about 24 hours.
In the aftermath, people cruised around on paddleboards. Boats and Humvees zigzagged through the flooded streets to make rescues. About 30,000 people were without power, and one woman died when she drove her car into high water, officials said.
Kyle Schmitz was at home with his 18-month-old son Oliver Tuesday night when heavy rain fell during a 45-minute span in Pensacola. He gathered up his son, his computer and important papers and decided to leave when the waters quickly started to rise.
“I opened the garage and the water immediately flowed in like a wave,” he said. “The water was coming up to just below the hood of my truck and I just gassed it.”
Schmitz and his son made it out safely. He returned Wednesday to assess the damage at his rented home in the East Hill neighborhood. The water was up to his shins and he feared he would never again live in the home.
Elsewhere, water lingered above mailboxes. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said officials received about 300 calls for rescues and had completed about 210 of those by midmorning. Some people abandoned flooded cars and walked to find help.
“It’s gotten to the point where we can’t send EMS and fire rescue crews out on some 911 calls because they can’t get there,” Escambia County spokesman Bill Pearson said. “We’ve had people whose homes are flooding and they’ve had to climb up to the attic.”