Life-threatening flash floods multiply on Claudette’s path

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Updated June 20, 2021 at 9:09 am ET

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Forecasters warned of life-threatening flash flooding in parts of the Deep South, particularly in central Alabama, as Tropical Depression Claudette swept through coastal states early Sunday.

Heavy rains brought high water from Saturday evening to Sunday morning in the metropolitan areas of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.

More than 20 people have been rescued by boat due to flooding in Northport, Alabama, WVUA-TV reported. Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management Agency tweeted that local Red Cross volunteers were on hand to help those affected.

And, Birmingham Fire and Rescue Captain Bryan Harrell told media a search was underway for a man who may have been swept away by the flooding.

Village Creek near Ensley has exceeded flood level at 13 feet (4 meters), the National Weather Service in Birmingham tweeted.

The rapidly changing conditions came as Claudette began hitting parts of Georgia and the Carolinas early Sunday.

The system was located approximately 135 kilometers west-southwest of Atlanta, with sustained winds of 45 km / h. It was moving east-northeast at 13 mph (20 km / h), the National Hurricane Center reported on Sunday morning.

A tropical storm warning was in effect in North Carolina from Little River Inlet to the town of Duck on the Outer Banks. A tropical storm watch was issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, all the way to Little River Inlet, forecasters said.

Claudette was due to cross the Atlantic Ocean on Monday and regain the strength of a tropical storm over eastern North Carolina.

Claudette was declared sufficiently organized to qualify as a named tropical storm early Saturday morning, well after the storm’s center of circulation made landfall southwest of New Orleans.

Shortly after making landfall, an alleged tornado caused by the storm demolished or severely damaged at least 50 homes in a small town in Alabama, just north of the Florida border.

Escambia County Sheriff Heath Jackson said an alleged tornado “pretty much leveled” a mobile home park, knocked over trees on houses and ripped off the roof of a high school gymnasium. Most of the damage was in or near the towns of Brewton and East Brewton, about 77 miles north of Pensacola, Florida.

“It affected everyone,” Jackson said. “But with these mobile homes built so close together, it can cost them a lot more than houses scattered around.”

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or fatalities.

Storm damage was also felt in northern Florida, where winds – in some cases reaching 85 mph (137 km / h) – tipped an 18-wheeler onto its side.

The storm also dumped torrential rains north of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana and along the Mississippi coast, inundating streets and, in some areas, pushing water into homes. The storm later inundated the Florida panhandle and, well inland, a large swath of Alabama.

Forecasters said the system could dump 5 to 10 inches (12 to 25 centimeters) of rain into the area, with isolated accumulations of 15 inches (38 centimeters) possible.

Separately, Tropical Storm Dolores made landfall on the west coast of Mexico with near-hurricane force. By Sunday morning, it had dissipated over Mexico. Its remains had maximum sustained winds of 25 mph (35 km / h), and it was centered about 170 miles (275 kilometers) east of Mazatlan, Mexico.

Heavy precipitation of up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) was expected in coastal areas of southwestern and western Mexico throughout the weekend. Forecasters warned of the potential for flash floods and mudslides.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.



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