Alabama flash flooding killed 1 child and trapped people in cars and homes, officials say

By Jason Hanna and Carma Hassan, CNN

    (CNN) -- Heavy rain sparked serious flash flooding in parts of Alabama from Wednesday into Thursday, killing one child in the northern part of the state and prompting urgent rescues from cars and homes in the Birmingham area, officials said.

Floodwater rushed into yards, roads and parking lots Wednesday evening in the especially hard-hit city of Pelham, about 20 miles south of Birmingham, suddenly trapping numerous residents and motorists, the city fire chief said.

In Pelham alone, responders 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.

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

A child died as a result of flooding in the town of Arab, about 60 miles north of Birmingham, the coroner's office in Marshall County said. Details about that incident weren't immediately available.

Heavy rainfall has fallen across central Alabama for several days, with some areas getting 6 to 13 inches, the National Weather Service said. Parts of the Birmingham area received 4-7 inches in just a few hours Wednesday alone, the weather service said, and 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.

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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