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Wednesday
Apr302014

Deadly Thunderstorms Batter the Southern States

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(PENSACOLA, Fla.) -- The Florida Panhandle and other parts of the Gulf Coast were hit with widespread flooding overnight, the latest blow from a days-long chain of severe weather across the South and Midwest.

The storm left people stranded in cars and homes waiting for rescuers to find a way around impassable roads. Others abandoned vehicles to walk to safety.

 

 

In Pensacola, Fla., one person drowned when the victim's car was submerged in flood water.

In Mobile, Ala., an elderly woman was rescued from a flooded car when fire crews from a station across the street waded through water to carry her to higher ground.

 

 

The storm turned lawns into lakes and roads into rivers. 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.

"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."

The widespread flooding is the latest wallop of a storm system that still packed considerable punch days after the violent outbreak began in Arkansas and Oklahoma. At least 35 people have been killed in that storm that started Sunday and spread from Oklahoma to North Carolina.

The skies roared, pounding the region with thousands and thousands of lightning strikes.

 

 

In addition to the flooding, families in Alabama are still digging through the rubble from two twisters Monday.

Amid the heartbreak, an incredible tale of heroism has emerged. John Servati, 21, a member of the swim team at the University of Alabama, was taking shelter in his basement with his girlfriend when a retaining wall fell.

He was able to hold the wall back long enough for his girlfriend to escape. The wall then collapsed, killing him.

"John Servati was an extraordinary young man of great character and warmth who had a tremendously giving spirit," UA coach Dennis Pursley said in a statement. "During this incredibly difficult time, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to all who had the good fortune to know him. He will forever be in our hearts and a part of the Crimson Tide legacy."


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