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Local News

Mayor Ashton Hayward Takes Flood "Recovery Tour"

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Carol Myers//Dave Dunwoody
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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.

“Showing up at someone’s home and seeking two foot (sic) of red clay in their house, and mud, they don’t know what to think or expect,” said Hayward. “And so I  think at a time of need when you’re a public servant, you put your arms around them and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be here.’ We’ve worked extremely fast to make sure our citizens were taken care of.”

Other damages to roads and infrastructure included a portion of Scenic Highway that collapsed in the downpour. The preliminary estimate for damage alone is $17.6 million. Of the 77 total projects, 52 have been completed, with a major stormwater development nearing completion at the airport.

Two community centers, Vickery and Bayview Resource Centers, remain closed. Plans are to re-open Vickery sometime in the fall, but City Engineer Derrik Owens says Bayview will become another victim of the storm.

“Because of the age and extent of the damage, it’s going to be practical and feasible to go ahead and bring the facility down,” said Owens. “It’s probably outlived its useful life.”

The city of Pensacola has spent about $6 million from the general fund on the repairs, with just over a million dollars in reimbursements and $380,000 from insurance. Mayor Hayward says they’re awaiting further word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“FEMA has been good to work with. However that process is slower, so we have to be patient with them, obviously,” Hayward said. “But we spent about $6 million, and of course we want to be reimbursed by FEMA. They worked with our team to identify those projects, to come up with the $17.6 million.”

FEMA generally reimburses 75%, the state 12.5%, with local government picking up the remainder. Hayward says they’re seeking additional grants to bring the reimbursement figure to 100%.

Mayor Ashton Hayward’s “Recovery Tour” began early Wednesday with an appearance on BLAB-TV’s “Daily Brew.” After visiting Piedmont Road, he stopped by the Airport Regional Stormwater Project near Summit Boulevard.