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Agencies, Governments Organizing Century Tornado Cleanup

Courtesy of NorthEscambia.com

The numbers are coming in from Monday’s tornado that hit Century and McDavid. Relief efforts are also being ramped up.

Yes, it was a tornado.

“We’ve given it a preliminary rating of EF3, because of some damage in and around the Century area,” said Doug Butts at the National Weather Service in Mobile. “The way the damage rating system works is that if you have one or two spots of EF3-worthy damage, then the whole track is EF3.

The Weather Service is estimating peak winds somewhere around 150-155 mph. The twister’s path was 16 and a half miles long and up to 300 yards wide through north Escambia County and into south Alabama.

There were no fatalities, and only a few minor injuries reported.

At least 30 homes were destroyed in Century, where many of the affected have annual household incomes at or below the poverty line. With the lack of funds comes a hindered ability to recover from the storms. Agencies are on-scene, including the local American Red Cross chapter, where Jerry Kindle is Director.

“We’re able to get some good damage assessment done,” Kindle said. “We’ve served about 300 meals, most of them in neighborhoods while [residents] are in their yards trying to clean up.”

The Red Cross is set up at the Century Community Center, with case workers and nurses, along with feeding and sheltering people there.

Red Cross volunteers are also working to get information on the affected residents into their computer system. As they collaborate with other agencies, that data can be shared. The public can also lend a hand in two areas: volunteering and cash donations. For both, call (850) 432-7601, or visit www.redcross.org. Kindle says their work in Century is strengthened by previous experience.

“Because of the nature of the Gulf Coast and all the hurricanes and tropical storms, our people are the best in the country at this disaster stuff,” said Kindle. “Between floods and hurricanes that we have here all the time, we learn something every time we do it, and we get better at it.”

The United Way of Escambia County has created an online donation site –www.helpNWFLrecover.org. Any leftover contributions will be used for other local relief efforts.

Florida Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon is expected to visit the area to survey the damage, but his Escambia County counterpart, John Dosh, says at this point the county is "not even close" to the dollar amount of damage necessary for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to kick in.

“There’s [sic] a lot of variables, from individual assistance standpoint when you’re talking about a FEMA declaration,” Dosh said. “Based upon what I’m seeing right now I don’t know if we’re even going to come close to that threshold. We’re going to ask, but I wouldn’t get our hopes too high.”

Gov. Rick Scott – aboard NAS Pensacola for a previously-scheduled meeting with base commanders on Wednesday – also met with Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan about the tornado and its aftermath. Neither was available for comment afterward.