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Local News

Escambia County's Emergency Operations Monday Update

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Hurricane Sally is long gone, and her legacy of damage in northwest Florida is disappearing steadily as well. That in Monday afternoon’s briefing at the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center.

As has been the case, County Administrator Janice Gilley kicked things off, talking about damage assessments and applying for a federal disaster declaration.

“We’ve had 10 teams out there, coordinated with FEMA, the Florida Department of Emergency Management, county and city staff, and the City of Pensacola,” said Gilley. “They are actually doing those joint damage assessments.”

Gilley says other work also continues on making Escambia eligible for a disaster declaration from the White House.

“These teams go out; they record the damage,” said Gilley. “They do it by address, and they’re very specific. They take photographs, they take measurements, and they do that assessment. It’s considered a preliminary assessment, because we’re trying to cover the entire county, and both of our barrier islands. They are validating our need for federal assistance.”

Document, document, document; that’s Gilley’s advice for those planning to submit flood claims.

“Make sure you take photos before, during, and after your cleaning; this protects you,” Gilley said. “Sometimes, as we know, these processes take a while. And the more documentation you have on the front side, the better it’s going to be for you as you go throughout this long process.”

Among that pre-storm, documentation is a list of items lost to Sally. And don’t forget to call your insurance agent.

Elsewhere, the point-of-distribution sites — for food, water and other supplies — are a smash hit, according to the administrator.

“All seven of our POD locations did open again between 8-8:30 [Monday] morning,” Gilley said. “We have had over 25,000 vehicles that have gone through these PODS in the last two days. We’ve asked for patience, and I think people have grown accustomed to how the processed worked.”

Other advice offered Monday dealt with health and safety.

“Please stay away from animals that are not yours, and keep your animals vaccinated. We’re seeing reports of animal bites and scratches, and that can be dangerous and life-threatening,” said Marie Mott -- Director of the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County.

“If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal – or if you’ve been injured while working in any way or have been exposed to flood waters – please seek medical attention and consider what vaccinations you might need,” Mott said. “The county Health Department has vaccinations available for tetanus and hepatitis-B. And you can call our appointment line – 595-6554 – to schedule an appointment for those.”

With electricity being restored and life getting back to some semblance of normal, Escambia Sheriff David Morgan says don’t get complacent – now begins what he calls “the long march” to full recovery in the coming weeks and months.

“Those of you who are not new to our community may remember Hurricane Ivan; I don’t want to paint too grim a picture for everyone, because I think we’re up and on our feet a lot quicker this time,” Morgan said. “But it was years [after Ivan] that we still had blue tarps on everyone’s homes. An so, there’s never a quick recovery.”

One stark example of a lengthy recovery, says the Sheriff, is now found in the Perdido Key area.

“That’s pretty much total devastation for those folks; their homes are gutted,” said Morgan. “Everything from the interior from the homes is out on the street. Pulling all of the insulation out of the ceiling. It looks like a war zone in these areas.”

And the area’s recycling program also took a massive hit from Sally. ECUA’s Materials Recycling Facility used by city sanitation customers is not accepting recyclables until further notice, due to the damage sustained during the storm.