Hurricane Sally

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

Sept. 29

8:51 a.m.

Red Cross aid available

The American Red Cross has started a new effort to get emergency financial assistance into the hands of Florida residents whose homes were severely impacted by Hurricane Sally.

Households whose home are destroyed or sustained major damage from Hurricane Sally may contact the American Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1 (800) 733-2767) and selecting option 4 to speak to a dedicated call agent to complete an application for financial assistance.

Will Kennedy/Courtesy Photo

Now that Hurricane Sally is history the restoration is underway in Northwest Florida and south Alabama. And so are the scam artists looking to make an illicit buck.

One of the emerging rip offs deals with Social Security, according to Tammy Ward at the Better Business Bureau in Pensacola.

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.

With cleanup and restoration work ongoing in the wake of Hurricane Sally, one unanswered questions is when northwest Florida will get a federal disaster declaration?

“[There’s] a lot of communication from the state Department of Emergency Management and also from our FEMA partners,” said Escambia County Administrator Janice Gilley. “They’re working to complete all of their assessment, and the valuations are still being calculated.”

Tuesday afternoon’s briefing at the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center reflected the progress, in which the county is rebounding from Hurricane Sally.

They may not be the final figures, but County Administrator Janice Gilley had some numbers on cleanup as the infrastructure gets back on line.

“To date, our assessments have determined that there are $182.6 million worth of damage to the city [of Pensacola], the county, the [Escambia] schools and the ECUA facilities,” said Gilley.

Okaloosa County

As Tropical Storm Beta is expected to bring an extra inch or two of rain to Northwest Florida later this week, Okaloosa County is preparing residents with two points of distribution for supplies.

The PODS, as they’re called, will be located at Northwest Florida Fairgrounds on Lewis Turner Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach, and the Old Spanish Trail Park in Crestview. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Stefany Gagne/Courtesy Photo

Just days after a number of construction barges broke loose during Hurricane Sally in Pensacola, at least one local law firm is mulling a possible lawsuit against their owner.

When Sally made landfall as a Category-2 storm, at least 20 barges escaped their moorings, according to imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The barges are owned by Skanska USA, which is overseeing construction of the new Three Mile Bridge. The vessels caused damage to that span, and ran aground elsewhere, damaging private shoreline property.

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

More than 300 people waited in line Monday morning at the Gulf Breeze Lowe’s for a bucket of free supplies for Hurricane Sally recovery. For many of the South Santa Rosa residents, the giveaway was a lifeline toward recovery. 

“It’s great, because everybody’s out of the cleaning supplies," said Rita McGartland after she picked up her blue bucket of supplies which included gloves, trash bags, and batteries. She said she was largely spared from the storm, with the exception of downed trees. "I have friends; we’re all sharing (supplies).”

Holm Elementary

Five days after Hurricane Sally came ashore on the Florida-Alabama Gulf Coast, dumping more than 20 inches of rain, schools in Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties reopened today. However, Escambia County schools remain closed until Wednesday.

Monday evening update:

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.”

Bob Barrett/WUWF Public Media

The clean-up from Hurricane Sally has opened up some job opportunities in the area. 

“They’re talking about pretty long days, 12 hours a day for seven days a week,” said Andrew Neilson, part of the first group of applicants leaving a job fair at the Escambia County Central Office Complex Monday afternoon. He says this first meeting at the job fair is a screen process for the potential new hires. “They are taking applications right now, just getting some basic information, and then they are going to be sending out an application probably in the next 24 to 48 hours.”

Alaqua Animal Refuge

When disaster strikes, Laurie Hood, founder of Alaqua Animal Refuge, is usually one of the first people to hitch her trailer and rescue domestic, farm or even exotic animals. 

But after the refuge took in over 30 inches of rain from Hurricane Sally, Hood is on the receiving end of assistance to ensure the safety for the hundreds of animals that call Alaqua home. 

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

Sixteen years to the day Hurricane Ivan slammed into Gulf Shores, Alabama, Hurricane Sally did the same early Wednesday – also as a Category-2 storm. 

Along with unleashing 105 mile an hour winds on the Panhandle, a slow-moving Sally deluged the Gulf Coast with up to 30 inches of rain from Pensacola Beach westward to Dauphin Island, Alabama — causing dangerous flooding along the coastline and well inland in the days ahead. Now, the cleanup begins.


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.”