Almost two years to the day when floodwaters submerged areas of Pensacola, Escambia County is out with its report on the flooding in April, 2014.
Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Escambia and 25 other counties in the Panhandle and Big Bend after storms dumped more than 20 inches of rain in some areas. While inspecting flood damage in the Pensacola area, he said economic losses in Escambia County alone could exceed $50 million.
“Right now, the real devastation is in Pensacola,” said Scott at that time. “People are being evacuated from attics, and in areas never flooded before.”
President Obama declared a federal disaster in the region, at the request of Scott and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.
“One hundred eighty-two major projects, and out of that we have 150 complete,” said Escambia County Administrator Jack Brown. “Fifteen still in design or going through bidding, and 17 [under] construction or making bid headway.”
Brown says one portion of the report really jumped out at him.
“It’s the magnitude of the damage throughout the county that basically half the county was affected by the storm,” Brown said. “When you talk about $89 million, that’s just in public infrastructure and doesn’t include all the numbers for the individual homes.”
The total price tag for rebuilding and upgrading storm-damaged infrastructure is placed at just under $26 million. Brown says work continues to secure money from a number of sources.
“We’re making good progress with FEMA,” said Brown. “Out of that a large portion -- $20.15 million – is currently projected to be reimbursed either through the National Resource Conservation Service; Federal Highway Administration or FEMA.”
The projects were prioritized based on the number of homeowners who were impacted, and the traffic counts affected.
Brown says one of the lessons learned in the 2014 flood is how residential subdivisions are planned in the future.
In the past we looked at individual systems for subdivisions,” Brown said. “And now what we’ve challenged our staff to do is anytime we’re doing a new subdivisions or a new development of any type, we have to look at the county as a one, complete stormwater system.”
To view the April, 2014 Flood Report, visit www.myescambia.com.