The storm surge submerged the first level of Maria Linomontes' home in Milton, Florida, and damaged her vehicles, just as Hurricane Ivan did 16 years ago.
"We tried to save many things, but the water just carried them away," said Linomontes, who decided to ride the storm at home with her family.
"We didn't evacuate because we thought the hurricane was going to hit elsewhere," she added, saying Sally's intensity caught them off-guard.
The storm has already left plenty of misery along the Gulf Coast. Schools and universities were closed, curfews were extended for days and many bridges were blocked by floodwaters.
At least 85 residents of an assisted living facility in Florida's Santa Rosa County were being evacuated Thursday due to the power outages, Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news briefing.
The governor did not name the facility but said officials are taking precautions to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
While some rivers have spilled over their banks in both states, officials in Escambia County, Florida, warned that multiple others were expected to crest Friday and in the coming days.
"Even as it (Sally) moves through states north of us, just remember that widespread river flooding is ongoing and it could continue over the next week in different parts of Florida," DeSantis said Thursday.
The remnants of Sally continued its push into Georgia, the Carolinas, and southern Virginia on Thursday.
Forecasters are warning about widespread flooding to the region and even a few tornadoes across the Eastern Carolinas through Thursday evening, the National Weather Service said.
In Orange Beach, coastal neighborhoods remained covered by water hours after the storm. The Alabama National Guard still had five high-water evacuation teams working Thursday in hard-hit Baldwin County, where Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are, it said.
"Our house had windows blow out at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. (Wednesday) and the whole house was shaking like a boat on the water," he said. " ... We ended up leaving the house during the eye of the storm, and waded through about 5 feet of water to get to the neighbor's house, arm in arm."
Sally moved extremely slowly over these areas, dumping sheets of rain -- in some places 2 feet or more -- that caused extensive flooding for miles.
"We had 30 inches of rain in Pensacola -- 30-plus inches of rain -- which is four months of rain in four hours," Pensacola Fire Chief Ginny Cranor said.
In the Alabama resort town of Gulf Shores, Mike Vansickler told WPMI he rode out the storm in his condominium, only to kayak himself further inland later. The National Guard and rescue teams used high-water vehicles to traverse streets there, while others traveled by canoe or waded.
"She looked out the window at the house, and she was like, 'Gammy, the ocean's in our yard,'" Gibbs told WBMA, recounting her 3-year-old daughter's conversation with her grandmother.
Sally had weakened into a tropical depression by Wednesday night. Its remnants were dumping large amounts of rain in parts of Georgia and the Carolinas on Thursday.
"We have already seen significant flooding in portions of Alabama from this rain band. Please remember: Turn around, don't drown," the weather office had said.
The National Guard so far as rescued at least 35 people in Alabama as of Thursday morning, officials said at a news conference that included Gov. Kay Ivey.
In Gulf Shores, near where the hurricane made landfall, Doris Stiers assessed the damage outside her beach home. She was stunned.
"Looks like a war zone," she told CNN Wednesday. "Lots of destruction, homes destroyed, roofs gone. I have not had any service, power or internet. Bad night."
Wilson, the Orange Beach resident who rode out the storm at home, said it was terrifying.
Alabama officials warned that even if the storm has weakened, residents should not let their guard down.
"The storm may have exited our local area, but it's important to remain vigilant since many areas are still affected by lingering flood waters," the National Weather Service in Mobile tweeted.
CNN's Faith Karimi, Tina Burnside, Michelle Krupa, Rosa Flores and Ed Lavandera contributed to this report.