US: Hundreds of thousands still without power in Sally clean-up

Hundreds of thousands of people in the southeastern United States were still without power Friday in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, as officials assessed millions of dollars in damage in the aftermath of the storm.

Officials said two people in the US state of Alabama were killed as a result of the hurricane – one drowned and the other was killed during the clean-up – while in Florida, authorities said they were looking for a missing kayaker who was feared dead.

The storm also caused significant damage to buildings and other infrastructure, including a bridge in the city of Pensacola, Florida, which sits on the Gulf Coast.

The supercharged Atlantic hurricane season has produced so many named storms that scientists ran out of traditional names on Friday as Tropical Storm Wilfred, while weak and far from land, developed in the eastern Atlantic.

Hurricane Sally
Residents on the Gulf Coast of Florida have been hard hit by Hurricane Sally [Gerald Herbert/AP]

It was only the second time that has happened since forecasters standardised the naming system in 1953.

Forecasters are watching at least two other systems, including one that is a tropical depression in the western Gulf of Mexico.

Extensive damage

In Louisiana, about 41,000 people remained without power around Lake Charles, where Hurricane Laura made landfall on August 27.

On Oak Island, North Carolina, which was ground zero for Hurricane Isaias on August 3, some rental homes finally reopened by Labour Day a little more than a month later.

Authorities in Florida’s Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, estimated that Sally caused at least $21m in damage to public infrastructure, such as roads and drainage.

It will likely cost an additional $8m to restore the sand washed away at Pensacola Beach, officials said.

Downed trees and flooding in West Pensacola near the Bayou Grove and Mulworth neighborhoods. The area received a lot of damage after Hurricane Sally came through as a category 2 storm in Pensacola, La
Major flooding and damage were reported in West Pensacola, Florida, due to Hurricane Sally [Getty Images]

The year-old Three Mile Bridge that connects Pensacola to the beaches was heavily damaged in at least two places, and authorities do not know how much money or time it will take to fix.

They included pleasure boats and even a replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship, the Nina, which docked in Pensacola to ride out the storm and came loose from its mooring. The vessel came to rest in mud and grass at a nearby marina.

Other storms

Meanwhile, Hurricane Teddy weakened into a Category-3 hurricane over the central Atlantic on Friday, the US National Hurriciane Center (NHC) said.

The storm was about 835km (520 miles) northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands, the agency said.

The NHC also said tropical storm Beta had formed in the Gulf of Mexico and was expected to be near hurricane strength by Sunday. As of Friday, that storm was located about 545km (335 miles) east of Tampico, Mexico.

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