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Florida residents deal with devastating floods and a deadly gas explosion

On May 1, hundreds of people were caught in a gas explosion at a Pensacola, Fla., jail, and reports suggest the blast may have occurred due to the devastating floods. With unequaled rainfall in one day it's suggested that the gas lines may have become unstable. While the local jail is dealing with its recovery, other residents were rescued from their homes, rooftops, attics and cars.

Heavy rains in Florida washout roads and devastate neighborhoods.
Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images

So far of the two lives lost during the explosion police have said they have not identified the bodies as guards or inmates. The wide-spread flooding has also removed roads, and includes school, and business closures.

Tom Ninestine, editor for the Pensacola News Journal visited the region by air and reported what he saw was “heartbreaking”. He described items like “cars submerged by water.” Adding, the flooding Florida just experienced far surpasses anything that he saw after Hurricane Ivan. As for the explosion that happened Wednesday night, according to CNN reporter Ed Lavandera, “the force was powerful it blew out walls” on the opposite side of the building. However, family members are shaken that their family members remain missing.

Sheila Travis, a mother of inmate at Excambia County Jail asked questions in front of news cameras: “How do you think family members are feeling that their kids have not been accounted for. I’ve seen more than two body bags come out of there.” Lavandera said Travis’s 23-year-old son was inside the building when the explosion happened, and has yet to be accounted for. As for help with the flooding in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott told the public that the National Guard is on it way to help, and he is also counting on FEMA to step in.

As much as the surface damage that can be seen, residents will still need to deal with the aftermath of what’s hidden underneath once the waters recede. According to Ninestine, city shelters are open for folks who have been displaced, and other officials are starting to collect reports of the flood damages.

Florida’s flooding happened within a 24-hour period and one resident describes to NPR how she feared for her life as the water was quickly filling up around her. Elizabeth Peden thought she was “going to drown because the water was coming in her car.” She knew if she stayed she was going to drown. Luckily she survived, let’s hope other residents were able to survive the flash-flood that has wrecked havoc in the Florida’s Panhandle areas.

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