Help is on the way for tornado victims in north Escambia County, through an executive order issued Monday by Gov. Rick Scott.
The Governor’s declaration comes after the Escambia County Commission declared a local state of emergency. Scott also met with Sheriff David Morgan last week aboard NAS Pensacola. Escambia County’s Safety Director Mike Weaver says this opens the door for possible additional funding to the county for housing assistance.
“Through either the Community Development Block Grants [CDBG], or the State Housing Initiative Program [SHIP],” said Weaver. “That’s mainly the funds that the state has for long-term housing for low-economic areas.”
Century is considered one of the poorest cities in Florida. Many of the affected residents have annual household incomes near or below the poverty line.
The EF-3 tornado – about 300 yards wide -- traveled more than 16 miles through north Escambia into south Alabama, with winds estimated at 150-155 mph. There were no fatalities and only a few minor injuries. The storm, however, destroyed at least 30 homes and damaged about 50 others. Weaver says state Emergency Director Bryan Koon’s brief tour of affected areas likely triggered the Governor’s order.
The declaration means the state will join local recovery efforts, and the ongoing work to determine what’s needed for rebuilding. Meanwhile, investigators with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are in Century doing assessments, and are joined by Escambia Emergency Director John Dosh.
“Without this declaration there was no possibility of getting any of that funding from FEMA,” Weaver said. “So, just this document alone gives it a little better of a chance.”
Another storm front is moving in from the west, and is expected to reach northwest Florida by Tuesday afternoon. Public Safety Director Mike Weaver says that has not escaped their notice.
“Especially after last week, we’ve been funneling plenty of calls in our own shop. But definitely, people are paying more attention to the weather, now that we know that tornadoes do hit the Panhandle of Florida,” said Weaver.
Legal Services of North Florida will be in Century Friday to meet with income eligible tornado victims, who cannot receive assistance due to outstanding title issues with their homes. Hours are noon until 4:00 pm at the Century Business Center at 150 E. Pond St. in Century.