Hurricane Sally did at least $139 million in damage just in Escambia County, and that number will continue to grow much larger as assessments continue, according to officials.
Escambia County Administrator Janice Gilley said Sunday that an initial damage assessment in the county and the city of Pensacola estimated there was $139 million of damage to both public and private property.
Estimating Hurricane Sally’s damage is a key metric in getting the Federal Emergency Management Agency to declare Sally a major disaster and unlock federal resources for both the county and residents.
“That’s what we submitted last night (to FEMA),” Gilley said at a press conference at 4 p.m. Sunday. “But that did not include bridges and things like that. So there are still some pretty substantial items to go in.”
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Gilley said 10 teams from the county, state and FEMA continue to survey the county to assess damage from the storm.
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz said Saturday that he expected a major declaration from FEMA to come soon, and Sunday, Gilley said she had received a call from FEMA asking for office space in county facilities for teams to set up shop.
“I would say that it’s a very good sign in my opinion that I did get a call this morning to ask for office space to come into Pensacola,” Gilley said. “It does sound like they’re committed to being here with us for a while.”
Escambia County hiring 275-300 debris hauler inspectors
The county has also awarded three $12.2 million emergency contracts to three companies to handle debris removal and collection.
Roads Inc. will handle areas north of Interstate 10. Panhandle Paving and Grading will handle the mid-section of the county from south of Interstate 10, including Pensacola Beach. AshBritt will handle the western parts of the county, including Perdido Key.
The county will also be hiring about 275 to 300 people to work as temporary jobs as debris hauler inspectors, Gilley said.
The county will announce details about a job fair it will hold for the positions. Gilley said the goal will be to have all of the debris collected within 90 days.
This week’s forecast: Wet weather won’t be near Sally totals, but could still bring minor flooding
Six distribution sites where you get food, water, ice, tarps
Meanwhile, the county has worked with the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the National Guard to hand out food, water, ice and tarps at distribution points throughout the county.
As of noon Sunday, nearly 20,000 cars had come through the county’s distribution sites over the weekend, Gilley said.
Six sites will open Monday at the following locations:
- AMC Movie Theater at 161 E. Nine Mile Road
- Brent Athletic Park at 4711 N. W St.
- Brownsville Community Center at 3200 W. DeSoto St.
- Century Industrial Park at 6081 Industrial Blvd. in Century
- Marie K. Young Wedgewood Community Center at 6405 Wagner Road
- Point Church at 13801 Innerarity Point Road
In addition, organizations like the Salvation Army, Red Cross and Mercy Chefs have provided more than 13,500 meals to residents affected by the storm.
Feeding sites will continue to be set up at different locations throughout the county and city, including at the county’s POD sites.
Eric Gilmore said as power and infrastructure are restored in locations, relief sites will shut down or relocate to areas that remain without power.
Gulf Power: 95% of Escambia County customers to have power by midnight Monday
Gulf Power was on track to restoring power to all of Santa Rosa County by midnight Sunday with just 70 customers without power as of 6 p.m.
The company had said 95% of Escambia County customers would have power by midnight Tuesday, but Gulf Power President Marlene Santos said Sunday that had changed to midnight Monday.
Santos said the company was able to beat its projections because community partners have allowed the company to set up staging areas throughout the community where the lineworkers can sleep and eat to cut down on travel times.
As of 6 p.m. Sunday, 20,790 Gulf Power customers were still without power, only 14% of the number of customers who had power knocked out by Hurricane Sally.
ECUA says system-wide boil water notice could be lifted Monday
One of the last missing pieces of infrastructure is a safe water supply. Emerald Coast Utilities Authority customers remain under a boil water notice.
ECUA Executive Director Bruce Woody said the utility had collected the required two rounds of 186 samples from across the system that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection requires before the boil water notice can be lifted.
Woody said he expects the results to come back Monday night, at which point the system-wide boil water notice could be lifted. Boil water notices may remain in effect for specific areas where the water system remains damaged, Woody said.
Jim Little can be reached at email@example.com and 850-208-9827.