It’s become the storm that won’t quit. After dropping multiple tornadoes, thunderstorms, heavy rains and flooding on states through the Southeast and Midwest, the mega-weather system has now triggered flash floods through parts of Florida and southern Alabama.
Damage estimates will likely take some time to complete, once the storm dissipates and cleanup can begin.
There’s now a state of emergency in 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle, the catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide said on May 1, after parts of the region faced as much as two feet of rain or more. Florida’s Panhandle region now has the dubious distinction this week of having faced its worst flooding in 30 years, according to National Weather Service data cited by AIR Worldwide.
Pensacola in particular endured flash flooding, with some parts of its downtown hidden under four feet of water. Pensacola’s Scenic Highway has also partially collapsed in the face of heavy rains and floods, AIR Worldwide said.
It’s not much better in Southern Alabama. County roads are flooded along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, and Mobile, Ala. faced the fifth wettest day on record April 30 in the past 143 years, AIR Worldwide noted. Also, much of Southern Alabama must now deal with flood-related property damage.
AIR Worldwide offered a note of hope, pointing out that between 60 and 70 percent of buildings in the U.S. Gulf Coast region meet Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) standards established in 1980. That number hits between 70 and 80 percent in the Florida Panhandle, AIR Worldwide said.
Still, the damage and even fatalities have been widespread. Since the storms and tornadoes first hit on April 27, thousands of people have dealt with tornado, flood and water damage. The Associated Press reported as of April 29 that as many as 28 people died from the initial storm cluster that first struck Arkansas and neighboring states.
Throughout this week, the storm has hit states including Mississippi, Illinois, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania.