Slow-moving US storm batters boats, bridges

BY BBC News

Hurricane Sally has crashed into the southern US in slow motion, bringing torrential rain and storm surges, smashing boats and breaking bridges.

It made landfall as a Category 2 and although now a tropical storm, its glacial pace means there are still warnings of danger to life.

Pensacola, Florida, was badly hit, with a loose barge bringing down part of the Bay Bridge.

There are also storm surge warnings for Alabama as Sally heads north.

Sally made landfall at Gulf Shores, Alabama, at 04:45 local time on Wednesday, with maximum wind speeds of 169 km/h.

The latest speeds are put at about 97 km/h, but it has been the torrents of rainfall and high storm surges that have been its most damaging factors.

Hurricane Sally is one of several storms in the Atlantic Ocean, with officials running out of letters to name the hurricanes as they near the end of their annual alphabetic list.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding continues over portions of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama”.

Rainfall is being measured in feet rather than inches in some places, but 18in (45cm) has been recorded across many areas.

Flooding to a depth of 5ft hit central Pensacola. The storm surge was the third-worst ever to hit the city. Police there told people not to go out to look at the damage, saying: “It’s slowing our progress down. Please stay at home!”

Although the winds did not have the devastating power of the deadly Hurricane Laura, which struck last month, they still ripped boats from moorings and sent one barge careering into the under-construction Bay Bridge. They were certainly high enough to topple high-sided vehicles.

The latest on power cuts from the poweroutage.us website lists some 290,000 customers without electricity in Alabama and 253,000 more in Florida.

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