Hurricane Isidore Chase Account
                           Jim Edds & Mark Rackley

Mark and I headed up to Pensacola on  Sept. 24 from the Florida Keys.  That's Mark filming storm surge from Isidore on the left.  Having filmed all the underwater scenes for Animal Planet's Extreme Contact, Mark is right at home in Mother Ocean.  Too bad there weren't any sharks in the area.  It would have made for some interesting video.  A big shark fin right at that stop sign would have been the money shot.

The nonstop trip up was exhausting.  Driving from one end of Florida to the other was around 850 miles.  We finally got to Pensacola at 3:30am.

We knew Isidore was only a whisper of what she was a few days earlier when Geoff Mackley pulled off the ultimate hurricane intercept from half way around the world.  Geoff who resides in New Zealand flew to Los Angeles, then Mexico City, then to Merida on the Yucatan.  What a stroke of luck for him because Isidore didn't stay offshore of the Yucatan like all the models predicted . . . it zeroed in on Geoff first at Progresso and then Merida.  I kept Geoff updated with radar information by text messaging his sat phone.  What a whopper of a hurricane Isidore was over the Yucatan.  

Mark and I slept till around 11:30am then headed out to my old stomping grounds - Pensacola Beach.  I used to live on the Beach and know the good spots to film.   The Gulf Coast is notorious for big surf and storm surge when storms move in.  We set up at the pier and I filmed some wrap around shots while Mark filmed in the surf. 

The local CBS affiliate WKRG Channel 5 had a crew on the beach and they interviewed us for a spot on the evening news.  Needless to say, my old chums knew I was back in town.

Thanks to the Pensacola Beach Lifeguards who let us work in the surf getting the shots we needed.

Isidore was still a day away so after a full day of shooting we headed back home.  It's nice to stay in a house on a chase instead of a motel.  I took Mark out to a local fish house and turned him on to some Gulf Coast Flounder.

The next day we headed for Biloxi, MS.  When we got to the Mobile Causeway (Hwy. 90) we couldn't see the old highway.  The storm surge had crossed the 3 foot seawall and completely cover the road.  Mark got out and (you guessed it) headed straight for the water.  He walked all the way down the I-10 exit then down hwy. 90.  Along the way, he found this car someone forgot to evacuate.  Mark took some great video of the waves breaking all over it.  You can see stuff floating inside in the video. 

I was content to shoot from the bridge and zoomed in on the main road leading into a small village.  In the picture on the right you can see another car and the power poles alongside the road.   I watched the video and could actually see the storm surge moving the car backward!  Talk about the power of water.  The wind was only about 60 mph but Isidore had a tremendous storm surge left over from it's peak a few days earlier.

In the next photo, Mark filmed wave after wave of storm surge inundating the old highway 90.  That's all saltwater breaking over the road.  Some of the Mobile investigators were up on the bridge with me in their unmarked cruiser watching in awe.  One of them told me he had been living here for 15 years and never seen hwy 90 underwater like this.

Next we headed to Biloxi, MS on the coast.  We didn't spend much time there because Isidore was already moving inland and the video wasn't near as good as Mobile.  We headed back to Pensacola with a treasure trove of video.  For a tropical storm, Isidore sure had a lot of storm surge punch.  Just think what a Cat III would do to this area.

Now what about that car in the first picture . . . I'll bet you're wondering what ever happen to that??  On to the Lili chase . . .



Mark Rackley Storm Surge Video Still

Mark Rackley Storm Surge Video Still

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