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Sally’s immediate impact likely caused around $5 billion in damage and cleanup costs, Watson said. The storm has moved away from the coast but will bring several more inches of rain to the U.S. Southeast before dissipating.

“If you’re sitting on a river 5 miles (8 km) inland, you’ve got the wind and 2 feet (0.61 m) of rain dumped on you, then four to six days later a few feet of water comes down the river,” Watson said. Inland rains also could affect cotton and peanut harvesting, as five counties in central Georgia got more than 10 inches (25 cm) in 12 hours, Watson said.

Several rivers in Alabama and Florida have not yet crested and are not expected to reach “major flood” stages until Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.


Evidence of water damage was rampant as the floods receded along the coast. The facade of an eight-floor apartment building in Gulf Shores was completely blown off, and damaged kitchens and bedrooms were visible, with furniture soaked from the torrential rains that pelted the area on Wednesday.

Lee Hayes of Perdido Key, Florida, at one point during the storm had her kayak ready on the couch and put life jackets on herself and her dog, Rico, as water rose under her deck, rushed past her bedroom and submerged her car.

“I’m like OK, we are not going to drown,” Hayes, 56, said of the experience. “I’m really tired. We were under my blanket and I held him close.”

Slow-moving storms like Sally damage “more cars than you would expect,” said Don Griffin, a vice president at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, an insurance trade group. Flooded cars are often a total loss due to damage to their electrical systems, he said.