The Florida Gulf Coast Region got pummeled this week by the same large S-shaped storm system that has been terrorizing most of the South and parts of the Midwest for the last several days and has since trekked up toward the Mid-Atlantic, unleashing tornados, lightning, and massive rainfall at every turn.
On the Gulf Coast, this storm dumped almost 19 inches of rain in 24 hours, according to the National Weather Service. This record rainfall caused massive flooding that destroyed homes and businesses, washed out roads, and swallowed cars whole. Florida Governer Rick Scott reported that about 300 people in the Florida Panhandle had to be rescued from their homes as waters rose.
Among the hardest hit areas in the Sunshine State were Pensacola and Pensacola Beach, home to the unique East Coast surf community that produced famed freesurfer/comedian Sterling Spencer. ESM checked in with local surf shops in the area, and neither Innerlight Surf & Skate nor Waterboyz reported any serious damage (in fact, both were open for business). However, local sources did say that many homes have been destroyed, and after the storm brought a short-lived initial run of waves, it left the area's beaches in a bit of a mess.
But the Red Cross is already hard at work in the Florida Panhandle, where supplies and resources are available to flooding victims, along with multiple shelters for those who have been forced from their homes. “The Red Cross continues to expand its relief efforts as this severe weather affects more communities,” said Red Cross official Richard Reed in a press statement. “Red Cross workers are responding from Arkansas to Florida to make sure people have a safe place to stay and food to eat, and they’ll still be there in the weeks ahead to help people recover from this devastating storm.”
As this storm system continues to affect the Eastern Seaboard, stay tuned to severe weather updates for your area from the National Weather Service, and if you’d like to help flood and tornado victims of the storm, the Red Cross is accepting donations.