September 18, 2020 – As the cleanup continues here in Pensacola from the aftermath of Hurricane Sally’s Wednesday landfall, we want to share the most complete footage we’ve seen to date of the storm’s impact. Sally made landfall just 30 miles west of Pensacola at Gulf Shores, Alabama as a Category 2 hurricane, with deluging rain and 105 mph winds. More than 2 feet of rain was recorded at Naval Station Pensacola, with one spot recording 30 inches.
The following videos and still images are courtesy of the catastrophe professionals at Complete Inc. of Pensacola (www.teamcomplete.com) who were scoping damage immediately after Sally’s pre-dawn landfall Wednesday morning. They are expert forensic engineers and general contractors who handle everything from insurance claims appraisal and arbitration to general contracting cost estimates and forensic engineering on building defects. Their specialty is large loss appraisals to take a closer look at disputed insurance claims and as such, their work is indispensable.
You may have seen still images of the damage to the Pensacola Bay Bridge (known locally as the “Three-Mile Bridge) created by a loose barge that’s part of the construction of the new southbound span, linking Pensacola to Gulf Breeze, on the barrier beach. But here’s the drone video you haven’t seen:
There were other barges which made various landfalls on the Pensacola side of the bay. One barge wiped out the 18th hole of a local country club on Pensacola Bay. Another barge came perilously close to striking the Interstate 10 bridge over Escambia Bay, a previous victim of Hurricane Ivan, 16 years ago to the day. The storm also caused damage to the under construction northbound span of the bridge. As a result, Gulf Breeze residents now face an hour commute into Pensacola via the more circuitous Garcon Point Bridge.
A two- to three-block stretch of downtown Pensacola coastline suffered flooding from the rain and estimated 5.5 feet of storm surge from Pensacola Bay. This is the drone video of the area around Community Maritime Park, which sits on the Bay, showing from South Spring Street, then turning west along a deluged Main Street, and then north into the heart of downtown:
In this next drone video, you can see cars navigating flood waters nearly up to the door handles, as the drone follows along, heading east on Main Street. At about 25-seconds in, you’ll see the famous intersection of Main Street and Palafox Street, in the heart of the city’s entertainment district:
Early estimates put damage to roads and public buildings in Pensacola at $29 million. The Complete Inc. survey team noted relatively few properties were flooded in downtown Pensacola. There will likely be more wind damage than flood damage. Across Pensacola Bay however, in the town of Gulf Breeze at sea level, up to 7 feet of forecasted storm surge created significant flood damage.
Here’s a birds-eye (drone) look at damage to a commercial building downtown:
As of this (Friday) morning, 107,000 Gulf Power customers (67%) in Escambia County (Pensacola) were still without power along with another 30,000 in Santa Rosa County. Full restoration isn’t expected until sometime Tuesday next week.
Schools remained closed today as far east as Panama City. Both Escambia County and Santa Rosa County schools hope to reopen on Monday. Some municipal sewage systems in the Florida Panhandle were overwhelmed by the rainfall and failed. The town of Lynn Haven (near Panama City) reported a 1.5 million gallon sewage overflow to state authorities.
Here are a collection of still images courtesy of the Complete Inc. survey team of neighborhoods near downtown Pensacola, showing various damage from wind and flooding to both residential and commercial properties.
Three FEMA Urban Search and Rescue teams, the Escambia County Fire Rescue Squad and the Sheriff’s Office, and 500 National Guard personnel have been on the job since Wednesday’s landfall, actively working on water rescues and various life-saving measures.
I am in Pensacola and happy to help any of my industry colleagues.
If you’d like to help victims of Hurricane Sally in need, you can donate via The Florida Disaster Fund, the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities in times of emergency or disaster.