Escambia County

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Perdido Key and Innerarity Point were among the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sally in southwest Escambia County. The storm made landfall at nearby Gulf Shores, leaving property ravaged by wind and water - due to storm surge and more than 20 inches of rainfall.

Driving through the area, it’s clear that a storm has been here. Vegetation on the barrier island has turned brown from the salt water that washed over, trees are down or leaning due to the sustained wind, and there are blue tarps scattered about.

President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster exists in Escambia County from Hurricane Sally. But the declaration does not mention assistance for individuals.

The declaration provides funding for public damage —roads, bridges, public facilities, and debris removal, among others. At last check Escambia has about $183 million in such damages. The sticking point is that it does not yet include provision for individual or household assistance.


Hurricane Sally is crawling toward the northern Gulf Coast at just two miles an hour, a pace that will allow the storm to gather huge amounts of water to dump on land eventually. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a state of emergency declaration for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties on Monday, in advance of Hurricane Sally.

“We don’t necessarily anticipate hurricane-force winds in those areas at this time; but we think it’s very likely there will be tropical storm-force winds,” said DeSantis. “We do though see a potential for the storm to really slow down and stall out.”

Primary Election Live Blog

Aug 18, 2020

Aug. 18 is the Florida Primary. We'll share live election results in state and local races from Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa Counties. Polls close at 7 p.m. You can also hear live results online by tuning in to 88.1 FM.

U.S. Congress District 1

Winner will face Democratic candidate Phil Ehr in November

Matt Gaetz (Incumbent) Winner

Greg Merk

John Mills

Florida Legislature: 

State House District 1: 


Mike Hill (Incumbent)

Michelle Salzman Winner


Francine Mathis Winner

Barbara Scott-Shouse

State House District 2:

Winner to face Democrat Diane Krumel in November

Rep:  Alex Andrade (Incumbent) Winner

Chris Dosev

State House District 4:

Winner to face write-in candidate John Plante

Rep:  Sandra L. Atkinson

Jeff Hinkle

Patt Maney Winner

Jonathan Michael Tallman

Florida Memory

Plans are underway for a couple of bicentennial celebrations next year, honoring both Florida and Escambia County.

Last Friday marked the county’s 199th birthday, when what’s now Florida was ceded by Spain and became a U.S. Territory. Escambia and St. John’s were Florida's two original counties, covering the entire area within modern state boundaries.

Photo Courtesy of Achieve Escambia

The Escambia County Commission is holding a public hearing Thursday to discuss whether to move forward with a proposed referendum that would authorize a county-wide tax and governing board focused on the health and well-being of children.

The ballot measure provides for a half-mill levy that would raise nearly $8 million a year for 10 years to fund a Children’s Services Council to be known as the Escambia Children’s Trust.

Photo courtesy of Escambia County

Ten years ago, the Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico became one of the nation’s worst environmental disasters.  The spill started after the explosion on April 20, but it was around this time in June that the oil began to show up on Escambia County beaches.

This week, WUWF is beginning a series of reports marking the 10th anniversary of the spill.

Photo courtesy of University of West Florida

To date, Escambia County high school seniors have qualified for nearly $1.9 million in federal student aid for the current year. That’s a slight increase over last year, despite the fact that this year’s push to increase applications was interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Photo courtesy of Escambia County

Pensacola Beach now has a rare, endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nest. It marks the third nest this season on the Escambia County shoreline.The female came ashore to nest on Tuesday morning, giving some Pensacola Beach visitors an exciting - yet unusual - daytime sight.

A short video captured the nesting as beachgoers quietly watched.

Alan Levine/Flickr

Local businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic can get some help, through a new program that’s getting underway this month.

It’s the Escambia County Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program, and the list of participants reads like a “who’s who” of local economic development; the county, city of Pensacola, University of West Florida’s Small Business Development Center, the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, and Florida West – where Scott Luth is CEO.

Escambia County

When Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Wednesday for Florida residents to stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus, it sparked more questions than answers. On Thursday, Escambia County officials held a press conference to explain what it actually means.

Essentially, their conclusion is that nothing has changed.

“Walk, bike, hike, fish, hunt, run, swim. You can go to the bank, go to the pharmacy, vet, or go to the doctor, if “teledoc” is not available,” said Escambia County Commissioner Robert Bender.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Escambia County is another step closer to implementation of all-electronic toll collection at the Bob Sykes Bridge Toll Plaza.

With District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill absent, the board voted 3-1 to approve an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation for the SunPass and toll-by-plate system, with all-electronic operation to begin in April.

The move aims to ease traffic congestion on Pensacola Beach, but there are ongoing concerns cashless tolls will become a barrier for some.

Records from Escambia County government are in the hands of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, as part of an ongoing investigation. 

The probe began earlier this year, focusing on the Emergency Medical Services division of the Public Safety Department. At issue, allegations by county medical director Dr. Rayme Edler that at least five EMS employees had falsified training documents.

Florida Department of Transportation

Time is running out for area residents to weigh in with their suggestions for naming the new Pensacola Bay Bridge. The joint naming committee, formed by Escambia County and the City of Gulf Breeze, will be taking suggestions until the close of business this Monday, June 3.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

About six months after the departure of Jack Brown, the Escambia County Board of Commissioners have hired a new administrator. Pending contract negotiations, Janice Gilley is expected to take over as the county’s top executive this summer.

It’ll be her second go-round with the county and, yet again, she’ll be coming in at a difficult time.