MOBILE, Alabama — Flood waters receded along the Alabama coast Monday after storms from a tropical weather system dumped about 7.5 inches of rain in less than a day, inundating roads and creating dangerous surf conditions along beaches.
No deaths or serious injuries were reported, but firefighters had to rescue more than a dozen people from cars that were surrounded by water when flooding was at its worst late Sunday.
"They were stranded motorists, people who drove through the water," said Steve Huffman, a spokesman for the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department.
At the University of South Alabama, water entered the ground-floor of a residence building, soaking rugs and shoes in student rooms. A car had to be pulled out of a sink hole that opened in a campus parking lot after water washed out soil underneath.
"This was a little bit unusual that we had the street flood and the parking lot flooding we did. I think it's just because we had a large amount of rain in a short period of time," said university spokesman Bob Lowry.
John Kilcullen of the Mobile County Emergency Management Agency said conditions were improving as the heaviest rains moved eastward into the Florida Panhandle.
"Water has had an opportunity to recede," said Kilcullen, operations and planning director. "There are still some spots and problems areas, but pretty much roads have improved since last night."
The National Weather Service said rains could continue through Tuesday, with 4 more inches possible across the region and as much as 8 inches possible in isolated areas.
The weather service issued a flood watch for extreme southwest Alabama, and forecasters said the churning surf was a threat on beaches in Baldwin and Mobile counties.
"Right now the big issue is rip currents," said Kilcullen. "They're telling people to stay out of the water because the Gulf is angry."
Weather officials had predicted downpours linked to a weather system in the Gulf of Mexico off the southwest coast of Florida, but the rain was heavier than expected.
"I think the timing of it and the amount of it was a little different than we expected," Kilcullen said.