New Hurricane Maps Focus On Storm Surge

May 26, 2015

Contrary to what most people might think, the number one killer from a hurricane is water, not wind. A hurricane warning, however, has always been issued for the wind, not the water. 

This conflict of messaging has prompted the National Hurricane Center to re-think their products in recent years.  Social science research and upgrades in GIS technology have enabled them to better define where and when the water might be life-threatening, and this is not always at the same location or at the same time the hurricane force winds may arrive.

Carol Myers//Dave Dunwoody

One year ago more than 20 inches of rain inundated the Pensacola area, washing out the vast majority of Piedmont Road near Roger Scott Tennis Center. Mayor Ashton Hayward returned to Piedmont Wednesday, as part of his "Recovery Tour.”

Hayward called Piedmont Road “Ground Zero” among the damage the storm inflicted on the area. The road was washed out from Tronjo Drive to Hallmark Drive by the heavy rain, and water escaping from a broken retention pond.

Taylor County

Escambia County officials are gearing up for battle, over part of the insurance on the Central Booking Facility, which was damaged by an explosion one year ago this week.

The facility was rocked by a gas explosion related to massive flooding last April 30th. Two inmates were killed, and another 184 inmates and staff were injured. The cost of replacing both Booking and the older County Jail building is placed, for now, at $180 million.

Escambia County Administrator Jack Brown inherited the jail issue when he took over in June.

Lindsay Myers

Small businesses affected by last spring’s storms in the Pensacola area have until February 6 to apply for a working capital disaster loan from Uncle Sam.

Also eligible for a loan from the U.S Small Business Administration are small agriculture and aquaculture operations, and most private non-profits. They must have sustained the damage in the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding between April 28 through May 6.


Torrential rain – more than 20 inches in some places -- fell on the Pensacola area at the end of April. Both residents and officials scrambled to assess the damage, as we hear in this year-ender report from WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody.

Gov. Rick Scott came to town and declared a state of emergency in 26 counties – including Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton – eastward to Alachua County. 

Emerald Coast Utilities Authority

As part of WUWF’s look back at Hurricane Ivan on its 10th anniversary, it turns out the storm did lead the way towards replacing Pensacola’s water treatment plant, which had been in service since 1937.

Ivan’s 100-plus mile and hour winds and storm surges of up to 15 feet mortally wounded the Main Street Treatment plant. A power outage knocked it off line for three and a half days -- resulting in a toxic brew of storm water, storm surge and raw sewage flooding parts of downtown Pensacola.


July 21 is the new deadline for northwest Florida residents affected by storms and flooding to apply to FEMA for federal disaster assistance.

As of last week, 860 disaster loans had been approved, totaling almost $36 million. The assistance covers damages from the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding in the Pensacola area from April 28 through May 6.

Lindsay Myers

Time is running out for residents in northwest Florida affected by storms and flooding to apply for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency: tshe deadline to register is Monday, July 7.

Survivors in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Jackson, Okaloosa and Walton counties are eligible to apply for disaster assistance that may include money to help pay for temporary housing, essential home repairs or other serious disaster-related expenses.

Representatives from the Florida State Emergency Response Team conducted a meeting Tuesday for public assistance applicants where SERT and FEMA reps outlined the available assistance and the eligibility standards.

Steve Hyatt, the Public Assistance Officer for the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Bureau of Recovery, spoke at the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center. There to listen were people representing the local governments and various non-profits that took hits in last month’s storms and flooding.

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

Gulf Breeze City Manager Buz Eddy and other officials in the city were a little nervous this week. Thunderstorms were predicted to dumps several inches of rain onto an already saturated community. Eddy said "we were on the edge of our seats for awhile, but it wasn't enough to cause any problems".  Still, a high water table and some areas still with standing water had the city preparing for the worst. And preparation is a hot topic in Gulf Breeze. The city has announced the formation of a storm water task force.