Work begins Monday on developing a waiting list for residents in Century needing housing repair or reconstruction assistance as a result of the February 15 tornado.
The twister, an EF-3 with 155 mph winds, destroyed or damaged more than 150 homes in Century. Among them was the wood frame house owned by Doug Lewis and his family, where they’d lived for more than 40 years.
“And I saw it coming, and I hollered, said ‘Get in the hallway’ and that’s where we stood,” said Lewis. “And from the time I left the dining room window until we got into the hallway it seemed like only five minutes – then it was all over.”
Eligibility for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program extends to those in the incorporated town of Century whose housing units sustained tornado damage.
“Folks that live inside the town limits can call 850-595-0872 for them to be placed on the waiting list,” said Meredith Reeves, Escambia County’s Division Manager.
“They’ll need to leave their name, address of the impacted residence, and a contact phone number,” Reeves said. “Staff will call them back within five business days and we’ll get a little more information about their income and their property.”
Owner-occupants of manufactured homes are also eligible, if they own the property on which the home is located. Services will be made available on a first qualified, first served basis. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation has sent Escambia County a little over two million dollars for the SHIP program.
“We have that split fairly evenly between repair and replacement housing,” said Reeves. “The county is seeking some partnerships with other entities, to see if we can leverage and stretch that further.”
And she adds that they take into account the maximum gross family household income requirements in Escambia County for the housing repair and reconstruction. They start at $33,400 for a household of one, up to $63,000 for an eight-member household.
FEMA has rejected all applications for federal assistance, saying the level of damage in Century did not meet their minimum criteria. Reeves was asked if that had any impact on the SHIP program.
“If affected it only in the sense that this is really the only resource for most folks,” said Reeves.
And while Century residents must wait until Monday to make the call, Meredith Reeves says that does not apply to those in the county’s unincorporated areas. They can call the Division at 595-0022. Those in Pensacola affected by either the Century tornado, or the one hitting Pensacola on Feb. 23, can call the city’s Housing Office at 858-0306.
Those with other needs can dial 211 for BRACE – the Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies; and for Catholic Charities.