MIAMI – Floodwaters from torrential rains damaged homes and closed roads throughout the Florida Panhandle, cutting power to the county jail and sending residents to emergency shelters as the area braced for additional rains Sunday.
A tornado connected with the storm system Sunday in southeastern Alabama, where an emergency official said a few homes were damaged but no injuries were reported.
“I actually saw it myself coming out of our church door – my first tornado I have ever witnessed,” said Margaret Mixon, emergency management director for rural Geneva County.
More than 600 inmates at the Escambia County Jail in Florida were without power and air conditioning after the rains left more than 5 feet of water in the bottom floor.
The parking lot of the sheriff’s office was completely flooded, leaving some patrol cars and other fleet vehicles with water up to the hood. Some homes and businesses also had several feet of water inside. Authorities estimated $3 million to $4 million in damages at the sheriff’s facilities.
Sunday’s rain could have been worse, coming on top of Saturday’s record rainfall. After getting more than 13 inches on Saturday, Pensacola only saw another 1.92 inches of rain Sunday. Mobile had 5.79 inches on Saturday and another 2.79 inches Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
More than 100 residents spent the night in three Red Cross shelters in Escambia County on Saturday night, including residents from a 50-unit apartment. Navy officials also set up housing for residents of a 22-home subdivision evacuated because of flooding, according to Red Cross officials.