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'IN ATTIC HELP': Couple is rescued from storm Sally by water

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Elaine and Jack Hulgan pose for a portrait after riding out the hurricane in their attic, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Cantonment, Fla. Rivers swollen by Hurricane Sally's rains threatened more misery for parts of the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama on Thursday, as the storm's remnants continued to dump heavy rains inland that spread the threat of flooding to Georgia and the Carolinas.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

CANTONMENT, Fla. – The firetrucks and rescue vehicles kept passing her house even after Elaine Hulgan, 76, wrote “IN ATTIC HELP” on the front door. So Hulgan's 84-year-old husband resorted to his best emergency signal: an ear-splitting whistle.

The noise rose above the din, and a firefighter on a Jet Ski soon rescued the couple and their two dogs off the front stoop of their brick home.

The Florida couple was trapped in their home after Hurricane Sally lumbered ashore Wednesday morning near Gulf Shores, Alabama, with 105 mph (165 kph) winds. At least one death has been attributed to the storm.

Now comes the tough part for Elaine and Jack Hulgan — filing insurance claims, dealing with two flooded cars, finding temporary housing and waiting to get home.

“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” Elaine Hulgan said.

Residents of a flood-prone neighborhood north of Pensacola since 1993, the Hulgans know what to do during a big storm. They’ve been flooded twice before and forced into the attic once.

As others tuned out forecasts about Sally because it was initially projected to hit far west in Louisiana and then Mississippi, Elaine Hulgan started moving books and photos out of low cabinets in their den, just in case. Her husband put the lawn mower atop a table on the back porch.

The rain from Sally started out light but soon changed into torrents. Water began rising from 11 Mile Creek across the street.