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Alabama flash flooding kills 4, spurs rescues from homes, cars

Flash flooding seen on Rugby Avenue in Birmingham, Alabama. (Provided Photo/@chefwolfgangpoe/Instagram via CNN)

(CNN) — Heavy rain sparked deadly flash flooding in parts of Alabama from Wednesday into Thursday, killing four people — including a 4-year-old girl — as crews rushed to rescue people from cars and homes, officials said.

Two of the deaths happened in northern Alabama’s Marshall County, where the girl was found dead in the city of Arab, and an 18-year-old woman was found dead in nearby Union Grove, the county coroner’s office said Thursday without elaborating.

And in central Alabama, a 23-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman died after floodwater swept their vehicle over a guardrail Wednesday night in the city of Hoover, just south of Birmingham, Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said.

Floodwater rushed onto roads, parking lots and yards as inches of rain dropped quickly onto parts of the state Wednesday evening.

Some areas received 6-13 inches over the past several days — and parts of the Birmingham area received 4-7 inches in just a few hours Wednesday alone, the National Weather Service said. Radar indicates even more may have fallen in some parts Wednesday.

The October average for Birmingham is 3.34 inches, meaning portions of the area received significantly more than they normally receive in an entire month.

Hoover alone saw flash flooding “in several areas of the city,” and “several of these areas have not experienced flash flooding in the last 20 years,” Hoover fire Division Chief Duane Prater said Thursday.

As for the two deaths there, the vehicle had entered a flooded area and was soon pinned against a guardrail, Prater said. Fire crews arrived but couldn’t reach the pair because of the water’s speed and the vehicle’s location, he said.

“Within a couple minutes, the rushing water pushed the vehicle over the guardrail and out of sight of the first responders,” Prater said.

Water was receding in the Birmingham area Thursday morning, but video from CNN affiliates still showed water lapping at some vehicles’ doors and homes in and around the city before sunrise.

More than 80 rescues from homes in Pelham

Floodwaters also quickly trapped numerous residents and motorists Wednesday night in Pelham, about 20 miles south of Birmingham, the Pelham fire chief said.

Responders in Pelham received more than 280 calls, and made more than 80 rescues from homes and at least 15 from vehicles using boats and other means, Pelham Fire Chief Michael Reid told reporters Thursday morning.

At least one person in Pelham was injured, Reid said without elaborating.

In Pelham, many residents suffered damage to their homes and lost vehicles, Police Chief Pat Cheatwood told reporters Thursday.

“Our city was just affected back in March by a tornado, so we still have residents recovering from that. So this has been a tough year for Pelham,” Cheatwood said.

A few more inches of rain could fall Thursday, and that could produce more flooding, the weather service said. Flood watches were in effect Thursday morning in parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and the Florida Panhandle.

Impacts from the flooding that already has happened will be felt over the next several days, said Jim Coker, emergency management director for Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham.

“Crews will be out tomorrow checking damage and checking infrastructure, which is everything from roadways to pipelines to power lines,” he told CNN by phone.

A big concern is the condition of the roadways, Coker said, as workers will want to ensure there aren’t any washed-out areas that could cause traffic problems.

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