Hundreds rescued from floodwaters in Fla., Ala.

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Vehicles rest at the bottom of a ravine after the Scenic Highway collapsed near Pensacola, Fla., Wednesday April 30, 2014. Heavy rains and flooding have left people stranded in houses and cars in the Florida Panhandle and along the Alabama coast. According to the National Weather Service, an estimated 15-20 inches of rain has fallen in Pensacola in the past 24 hours. (AP Photo/Pensacola News Journal, Katie E. King)

Vehicles rest at the bottom of a ravine after the Scenic Highway collapsed near Pensacola, Fla., Wednesday April 30, 2014. Heavy rains and flooding have left people stranded in houses and cars in the Florida Panhandle and along the Alabama coast. According to the National Weather Service, an estimated 15-20 inches of rain has fallen in Pensacola in the past 24 hours. (AP Photo/Pensacola News Journal, Katie E. King)

Jones County residents take in the damage Tuesday, April 29, 2014 left behind by a tornado that ripped a path along U.S. 11 North near Sandersville, Miss. Monday, April 28. 2014. (AP Photo/The Hattiesburg American, Kelly Price)

Larry Smith’s camper shelter near Stedman, N.C., was destroyed after a possible tornado passed by his house Tuesday, April 29, 2014. At least five counties in eastern North Carolina reported tornadoes on Tuesday. (AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, James Robinson)

Damage along Sampson Road in Jones County near Sandersville, Miss. is evident Tuesday, April 29, 2014 after a tornado passed through the area Monday night April 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Hattiesburg American, Kelly Price)

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, foreground left, and members of his party dodge debris left after a tornado struck the mobile home where Ray Harvey lives, Tuesday, April 29, 2014 near Stedman, NC. (AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, Johnny Horne)

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PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — People were plucked off rooftops or climbed into their attics to get away from fast-rising waters when nearly 2 feet of rain fell on the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast, the latest bout of violent weather that began with tornadoes in the Midwest.

In the Panhandle, roads were chewed up into pieces or wiped out entirely. Cars were submerged and neighborhoods were inundated, making rescues difficult for hundreds of people who called for help when they were caught off guard by the torrential rains in the span of about 24 hours.

In the aftermath, people cruised around on paddleboards. Boats and Humvees zigzagged through the flooded streets to make rescues. About 30,000 people were without power, and one woman died when she drove her car into high water, officials said.

Kyle Schmitz was at home with his 18-month-old son Oliver Tuesday night when heavy rain fell during a 45-minute span in Pensacola. He gathered up his son, his computer and important papers and decided to leave when the waters quickly started to rise.

“I opened the garage and the water immediately flowed in like a wave,” he said. “The water was coming up to just below the hood of my truck and I just gassed it.”

Schmitz and his son made it out safely. He returned Wednesday to assess the damage at his rented home in the East Hill neighborhood. The water was up to his shins and he feared he would never again live in the home.

Elsewhere, water lingered above mailboxes. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said officials received about 300 calls for rescues and had completed about 210 of those by midmorning. Some people abandoned flooded cars and walked to find help.

“It’s gotten to the point where we can’t send EMS and fire rescue crews out on some 911 calls because they can’t get there,” Escambia County spokesman Bill Pearson said. “We’ve had people whose homes are flooding and they’ve had to climb up to the attic.”

About 22 inches of rain fell in Pensacola — one-third of what falls in an entire year. National Weather Service officials were still sorting out official numbers because equipment that serves Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola lost power during the storm.

Meteorologist Jeffrey Medlin said what they had recorded officially — more than 11 inches — would be the fourth highest total for a calendar day since 1879.

Medlin said flash flood warnings were issued as early as Friday. Still, many people were caught unaware.

Elizabeth Peaden was driving home from her weekly Bunco game Tuesday night when she drove her van through a flooded intersection and got stuck.

“I was scared out of my wits. Water started coming in and I wasn’t sure what to do,” she said.

Peaden made her way to a nearby American Legion post where she and other stranded travelers spent the night sleeping on tables.

The widespread flooding was the latest wallop from a violent storm system that began in Arkansas and Oklahoma and worked its way South, killing 37 people along the way, including the 67-year-old driver in Pensacola.

Ron Hruska’s neighborhood was flooded, but his home was safely on higher ground. Hruska said there were flash flooding warnings on television throughout Tuesday night but that the water came up faster than expected.

“I’ve never seen it this bad in 12 years here,” he said. “It wasn’t even this bad after hurricanes.”

In Gulf Shores, Ala., where nearly 21 inches of rain fell in a day’s time, the scene resembled the aftermath of a hurricane. The intracoastal waterway rose, reaching the canal road linking the town with neighboring Orange Beach.

There, at Sportsman Marina, employee J.J. Andrews couldn’t believe what she saw out the window.

“We’ve got water up in our parking lots,” she said. “Our docks are under water. It’s worse than during Hurricane Ivan, is what they’re saying. It’s crazy.”

The 2004 hurricane dumped 3 to 7 inches of rain along the Florida Panhandle.

In Baldwin County, Ala., crews started rescues before midnight Tuesday, said Mitchell Sims, emergency management director.

“As soon as we get a water rescue team in here, they’re sent back out,” he said. “We’re rescuing people from cars, from rooftops, from all over

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