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Hurricane Sally Makes Landfall Near Gulf Shores, Ala.


Hurricane Sally made landfall this morning near Gulf Shores, Ala. The slow-moving storm came ashore with 105-mile-an-hour sustained winds and, of course, a whole lot of rain, which forecasters expect to cause dangerous flooding along areas of the Gulf Coast, including the Florida Panhandle and Mississippi. NPR's Debbie Elliott spent the night in Gulf Shores and joins us now on the line. Debbie, what are you seeing? What was the storm like overnight?

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Good morning. You know, it was pretty harrowing, I will not lie. The wind was howling. Things were blowing into the house. At one point, we felt like the door was going to blow open. And right at the height of the storm, some neighbors from across the street came over with their pets because an oak tree had fallen on their roof and knocked the chimney loose. And they felt like their house was about to fall apart.

MARTIN: Aw, man.

ELLIOTT: This storm really got a lot stronger at the last minute than I think a lot of people were expecting. And I think we will be seeing a lot more damage as we start to get some daylight and see what's going on this morning.

MARTIN: So you don't - you haven't been able to get a sense of any damage thus far?

ELLIOTT: Yes. You know, there are oak trees that have just been toppled by their roots all up and down the street where I am. And I've been talking to friends and family in Orange Beach, where I live, the town next door. And it sounds like it's been a very dramatic night as well there. There were water rescues overnight on the street where I live, where I evacuated from. Neighbors describe the roads looking like canals flowing freely. Cars and boats, they were washing away. There were reports of some tornadoes in the region.

Right now, Orange Beach officials are battling a fire in the Cotton Bayou area. Officials have a curfew in place right now so that they can get out and sort of see what's going on. Power is out for a really wide area. At last count, I think nearly a half a million people in the Gulf's south region without power. This reminds me a lot of Hurricane Ivan, which hit practically in the same spot 16 years ago today. And I think we'll be seeing similar destruction.

MARTIN: And the slowness is a problem, right? I mean this just makes...

ELLIOTT: It really is.

MARTIN: ...The risk of floods worse.

ELLIOTT: All the rain. And now it's moving inland. So it's not just people who live on the coast that are dealing with storm surge. It's going to be rain that makes creeks and rivers rise. There's nowhere for that water to go. And it's just piling up. And it's going to be an issue, I think, as this storm starts to curve around and inch its way ever so slowly through Alabama and then on into Georgia. So this is going to hit the Southeast.

MARTIN: Well, we appreciate you. And stay safe. NPR's Debbie Elliott in Gulf Shores, Ala., bringing us the latest on Hurricane Sally. Thanks, Debbie.

ELLIOTT: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.
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