Sept. 16 (UPI) — A section of a bridge over Pensacola Bay in Florida broke off Wednesday after Hurricane Sally caused a construction crane to topple onto the span, local emergency officials said.
The Santa Rosa County Emergency Management agency said officials closed Three Mile Bridge, also known as the Pensacola Bay Bridge.
“DO NOT attempt to cross this bridge,” the agency tweeted. “Seek an alternate route.”
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told the Pensacola News Journal the storm also knocked another barge from its moorings. It was drifting in Escambia Bay toward Interstate 10.
“They’re working it right now, the emergency ops folks, are working to get a tug out there right now to get it to stop,” he said.
Hurricane Sally arrived in the U.S. Gulf Coast early Wednesday, bringing heavy rains, powerful winds and floodwaters to a wide swath of the coastline between Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Sally made landfall as a Category 2 storm but was downgraded to a weak tropical storm as it moved over land, the National Hurricane Center said.
Hundreds of thousands lost electricity across the region as the hurricane-force conditions arrived before dawn. The NHC warned of “catastrophic” and life-threatening flooding along the entire forecast zone.
More than a 270,000 homes and businesses in Alabama and 240,000 in Florida have lost electricity, according to PowerOutage.us.
Gulf Power reported that 96% of its customers in Baldwin County, Ala., and more than half in neighboring Mobile County lost power.
Video footage from non-profit rescue group Cajun Navy showed overturned boats and debris littering roads in Orange Beach, Ala., and downed trees, floods and damage were reported across coastal Alabama and Florida.
The NHC cautioned that some areas could see as many as 35 inches of rain.
One area of Pensacola received 30 inches of rain and Naval Air Station Pensacola nearly 25 inches, plus 90-mph wind gusts, the National Weather Service said. The NWS observed 5 feet of storm surge in Pensacola Bay and expected 2 hours of high tide.
Officials said crews performed water rescues and life-saving measures in the area.
“Flooded roadways and intersections, along with hazardous debris in roadways have become too numerous to list,” the Pensacola Police Department tweeted. “Please stay off the roadways now.”