State of emergency declared after 20 inches of rain in 24 hours

LOUISVILLE, Miss. –  Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Wednesday after his state was hit with more than 20 inches of rain in the past 24 hours, killing at least one and leaving others stranded in their houses and cars in the state’s Panhandle.

Escambia County spokesman Bill Pearson told The Pensacola News Journal that at least one person died and several others were stranded by floodwaters in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The circumstances surrounding the death were not immediately known.

Pearson said fire rescue crews aren’t able to respond to some calls early Wednesday because of road flooding around Pensacola. He said some people have climbed into their attics because of rising waters.

“We are asking people to stay off the roads,” Pearson told the newspaper.

The county is moving boats and jet skis from beaches to streets for rescues. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is lending boats and officers to help.

Schools and most government offices in the area are closed Wednesday.

Tamara Fountain, spokeswoman for the city of Pensacola, told The Pensacola News Journal that the city activated its Emergency Operations Center in response to the flooding.

“People are being rescued from their homes and cars,” Fountain said. “People are still out driving. They need to stay in.”

As much as 15 to 20 inches had fallen in Pensacola in a 24-hour period, National Weather Service meteorologist Phil Grigsby in New Orleans said Wednesday morning, with a few more inches expected. Grigsby said aerial rescues were planned, and the county moved boats and jet skis from the beaches to the streets to help. A portion of Interstate 10 was closed.

“We’ve seen pictures that people are posting with water halfway up their doors, front doors,” Grigsby said. “It’s going to be a big cleanup, looks like.”


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