At Least 4 Dead in Alabama After Heavy Rains Flood the State
A child and three adults drowned in vehicles submerged in deep water after creeks swelled in the northeast and central counties, officials said.,
At least four people, including a child, died in flooding and many more were rescued from inundated cars after heavy rainfall swept through parts of northern and central Alabama, officials said on Thursday.
In Hoover, just south of Birmingham, a young man and woman were found dead in an S.U.V. in the Riverchase residential development, where lakes were so swollen from rainfall that they had merged, Mayor Frank V. Brocato said on Thursday.
He said the couple had been driving down a hill and encountered flooding that had swamped Riverchase Parkway West. “They probably didn’t see there was that much moving water, and it literally swept their vehicle,” Mr. Brocato said.
Lina Evans, the Shelby County coroner, identified the couple on Thursday as Latin Marie Hill and Myles Jared Butler, both 23. The floodwater was so deep that their vehicle went over some guardrails into a swollen creek and flipped upside down, Ms. Evans said.
“It was raging,” she said.
Nine to 10 inches of rainfall over 24 hours pooled in basements or swamped high-elevation areas in Hoover, which has about 92,000 people, intensifying on Wednesday night.
“It parked itself right over Hoover, and for five hours, it was unrelenting,” said Mr. Brocato, a former firefighter of 42 years.
In Marshall County, in the state’s northeast, Chief Shane Washburn of the City of Arab police said an adult and a child were rescued by firefighters from the top of their vehicle, which had been washed off a roadway into an overflowing creek. But a child still in a car seat inside the vehicle died, he said.
According to the Marshall County Coroner’s Office, the child who died was a 4-year-old girl. The Arab Fire Department said the woman and boy who were rescued had been clinging to a tree from atop a submerged minivan, but “due to extreme conditions of the water, there was no way to reach the female child.”
The coroner’s office also said that the body of an 18-year-old woman was recovered on Friendship Road in the Union Grove area on Thursday.
As of Thursday morning, the office had not publicly identified either flooding victim.
The storm system drifted in from the west early in the week and spawned sluggish thunderstorms, some of which eventually migrated into the state’s north and central regions, where they lingered for several hours, doing the most damage, said Chris Darden, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Birmingham.
Although bands of heavy rain had fallen across the state since Saturday, the height of the flooding was Wednesday night from about 7 to 10 p.m. The cities most affected were Pelham, Helena and Hoover, in Shelby County, south of Birmingham, where as much as 10 inches of rain had accumulated within 24 hours.
Up to four inches of rain was expected on Thursday to drench areas already saturated, adding to the risk of flash flooding, the Weather Service in Birmingham said. But the rains are forecast to taper off by Thursday night.
Rescuers waded through chest-deep water to reach people stranded in their cars. Mr. Brocato said that in Hoover, a woman had been rescued from the roof of her car, which had been pinned by water against a dam, teetering over a 30-foot embankment. Another woman escaped her vehicle after she had apparently tried to drive through a flooded street, he said.
In Pelham, about 20 miles south of Birmingham, firefighters rescued 82 people from their homes and up to 20 from vehicles, the Fire Department said on Thursday.
“Water was coming in the car so fast I had to bail out the window,” said Jill Caskey, who watched as a tow truck hauled away her vehicle from a parking lot in Pelham, The Associated Press reported. The car stalled as she was trying to navigate floodwaters, it said.
Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service made 16 water rescues, local news media reported.
Rescuers continued to search on Thursday. In Marshall County, they combed creeks in case vehicles were swept downstream, said Anita McBurnett, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency. They left behind their boats and went out on foot instead, trudging along banks where waters had receded.
In the past 24 hours, an estimated 12 people were rescued, she said.
“There were numerous streams that rose out of their banks, and where they cross over roadways, there were people that tried to drive through them,” she said. “We try to tell people not to. You just don’t know what’s underneath or how fast the water is moving.”