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Local News

Escambia County Seeks Insurance Payments For Jail

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Taylor County
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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.

“The county had cobbled together $25 million worth of flood insurance coverage, and $45 million worth of all-perils insurance,” said Brown. “They have paid the flood, and the all-perils they have refused to pay. Put it this way: they’ve denied coverage on it.”

“Peril” is defined as a cause of damage or loss. Insurance firms use the word to explain certain risks that cause damage, which the policy will agree to cover. However, Brown says the jail explosion was considered a flood event by the carrier. Brown says they plan to fight the decision.

Brown has been speaking with the State of Florida and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the matter, the latest conference call was held on Monday afternoon. He says the talks have been going well.

“The biggest impact regarding the insurance with FEMA and the state,” Brown said, “Is that FEMA coverage is above and beyond whatever you recover from your flood insurance or from your other insurance policies.”

That tentative $180 million price tag for a new Booking Facility and Jail, with nearly 1500 beds, does not include acquiring property if the county decides not to build at the booking facility’s current location.

While Escambia County Administrator Jack Brown doesn’t feel good about the insurance situation, he adds that they appear to be making some headway with FEMA. But one roadblock is that the feds will wait until the county collects all the insurance money possible.

The jail is in an area, the Delano Projec, that’s considered key in holding stormwater out of downtown Pensacola. Until a decision is made on where to build the facility, the type and amount of such protection cannot be determined.