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Pensacola Picks Up After Tornado

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Credit Sandra Averhart
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Sheriff David Morgan, Governor Rick Scott, and Mayor Ashton Hayward outside destroyed buildings.

Governor Rick Scott met with local officials and the media on Wednesday, to discuss the aftermath of the twister that devastated some neighborhoods in Pensacola the previous night.

The Governor has issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency for Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties as a result of the tornado, which damaged more than 100 homes, in addition to the 24 apartments at the Moorings on Old Spanish Trail which were destroyed.

“The city’s going to do their job, the county’s going to do their job, the state’s going to do their job” said Scott. “And we’re going to make sure any resources we can get from the federal government, we make that happen.”

As with the twister last week in Century, there were no fatalities Tuesday night in Pensacola and only six injuries – three of which required hospital treatment for minor hurts. After inspecting some of the damage, Scott said it’s hard to imagine nobody died. The next stop for Gov. Scott is Century, to speak with officials and tornado-impacted residents there.

“We’ve already declared a state of emergency up there,” the Governor said. “We’ve already provided some funds from the state budget up there now. We’ll continue to do things to help them get back.”

More than 170 emergency responders worked throughout the night in Pensacola: about 50 Escambia County Deputies and 120 personnel from the county Fire District.

“Road closings are going to remain fluid,” said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan. “Most are open, but what’s going to occur throughout the day and well into the night is working with Gulf Power. We’re going to have to close off roads for them to get their power trucks in.”

Morgan echoed the Governor’s relief that nobody died in this storm. He then pointed to what he considers a miracle, amid the rubble at The Moorings.

“About six a.m., a lady comes out of her apartment, and all around her is devastation,” Morgan said. “’What are you doing inside the perimeter, how did you get in here?’ And she says, ‘Well, I’m going to go to work.’ She hunkered down and rode out the tornado last night. So that is somewhat surreal.”

At the peak of the storm, about 15,000 Gulf Power Company customers had lost electricity. Working overnight, local crews assisted by other Southern Company personnel had whittled that down to 2,700, as of Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, Escambia County Emergency Director John Dosh says damage assessment continues, with the focus on safety.

“A lot of power lines that are on the ground, a lot of debris in the roads,” said Dosh. “And that’s one of the reasons we’re keeping the public out of it until we get these things removed, and make sure we’ve got a safe environment.”

And we move from the spring-like stormy weather to more seasonal concerns. Low temperatures are expected to drop back into the 30's and 40's the next few nights, which means cold weather shelters will be opened throughout the area.