SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:
Hurricane Sally crawled ashore in Alabama this morning as a Category 2 storm. It's been slow-moving, drowning cities along the coast in unrelenting rain and bashing structures with 100-mile-per-hour winds.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
In the town of Orange Beach, officials say they had 120 calls from midnight through the morning from people whose homes were flooded. About 60 people were rescued overnight. They're now staying in makeshift shelters.
PFEIFFER: One resident, Jon Perkinson, stayed put. His home is up on stilts but sits between two bodies of water - Wolf Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway. As of yesterday afternoon, he thought a tropical storm was headed his way and that it would just brush by him. But by evening, he had...
JON PERKINSON: Three-foot waves hitting the house on the north side, while 125-mile-an-hour winds shook the whole house from the south side. It was just brutal. And my wife and I just sat there, just waiting on the roof to peel off.
CHANG: By that point, it was too late to get out. The storm was roaring through. His road had flooded. He watched as boats capsized. He saw people swimming to shore.
PERKINSON: It was absolutely terrifying. It was the worst night of our lives. We were caught completely flatfooted.
PFEIFFER: Many others shared in that terror as the storm raged.
PERKINSON: We had a huge fishing boat - like, a 60-foot boat - coming down Wolf Bay and just figured it had busted loose off of its anchorage. And it settled on my dock or what was left of my dock.
CHANG: When it was light enough to venture out, Perkinson realized there was a man alive on the boat. The man shared the harrowing story of his night. Out on the water, the boat had started to sink.
PERKINSON: The door jammed on it, so they had to punch their way out of the forward hatch of the boat. It was a guy and his 85-year-old uncle. They both had life jackets on. And when they got to land, the uncle wasn't there.
PFEIFFER: A couple hours later, police showed up. They had found the uncle's body.
CHANG: Perkinson's family had made it through. His 11-year-old daughter had somehow slept peacefully through the night. Now the family is surveying the damage.
PERKINSON: I'm looking at pine trees with no leaves and the bark ripped off of them. There's a car. I've never even seen the car. I have no idea where it came from. It's over there. My boat is floating on the trailer in the canal. We're in shambles, but we're safe.
CHANG: He says he has been through some big storms in the past.
PERKINSON: I've stayed through tropical storms when I was younger and dumber. And even then, I knew I wasn't doing the right thing, but I didn't feel like I might die. Last night, you know, I was just praying, please, let us see tomorrow morning.
PFEIFFER: Hurricane Sally survivor Jon Perkinson of Orange Beach, Ala. He says his family will be in church this Sunday, offering thanks for having made it through. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.