Hundreds throughout Pensacola are picking up the pieces Wednesday after a tornado touched down overnight, cutting a two-mile slice through the northeast part of town.
A supercell which was detected offshore near Gulf Shores, Ala. around 7:00 p.m. eventually touched down near 9th Avenue and Interstate 10 and traveled northeast through the Northpointe and Harbour Square neighborhoods.
Residents share experiences of Pensacola tornado“All hell broke loose.”Matt P., a resident of Tradewinds Drive in Northeast Pensacola shares his experiences as a tornado struck his neighborhood last night, blowing the roof completely off his house and leveling his neighbor’s home.
Posted by The Pulse on Wednesday, February 24, 2016
As the sun came up this morning, the full scope of the tornado’s devastation began to reveal itself.
At least 70 homes received serious damage, and scores of trees were uprooted across the area, falling into homes and streets. At daybreak, dozens of streets remained blocked by trees, downed power lines, and other debris, but by mid-morning, crews had begun to make streets passable.
At the nearby Moorings Apartments, all residents were evacuated after three buildings were catastrophically damaged and a severe gas leak was discovered. Trees fell into several buildings, and the roof of at least one building was torn off. Officials said the 24 units received significant damage.
Miraculously, no one was killed, and only a few people were transported to hospitals with minor injuries.
Pensacola’s GE plant, adjacent to the apartment complex, also received damage in the tornado. Officials said the plant was closed Wednesday as plant personnel inspected the damage.
Interstate 10 remained closed for several hours last night from the Pensacola side of the Escambia Bay Bridge eastward to mile marker 43 near Holt, Fla. due to several vehicular accidents. The driver of a semi trucks which overturned on the bridge was transported to an area hospital with injuries.
Escambia County officials said Wednesday that more than 170 first responders worked through the night, including at least 120 responders from Escambia County Fire and Rescue and 50 deputies from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. The Pensacola Fire Department, Pensacola Police Department, NAS Pensacola Fire Department, Pace Fire Rescue District, and Baldwin County, Ala. EMS also responded.
Situation on Wednesday
Governor Rick Scott has issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties as a result of the tornado.
As of 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, some 2,500 Gulf Power customers were still without power, mostly within the tornado-affected area.
Escambia County officials said county building inspections would be suspended until further notice.
Regency Park, located at 8245 Fathom Road in the affected area, is closed until further notice. Parks crews are doing general clean-up of wood and debris to safeguard the park, and signs noting the closure will be placed at the park.
Escambia County Area Transit service has resumed, but Route 43 — which services the Moorings Apartments — will experience delays and detours. The closest bus stops that will be serviced in the affected areas are located at the Northwood Apartments near 9th Avenue and Olive Road.
The University of West Florida, Pensacola State College, and the Escambia County School District have resumed a normal class schedule.
Red flags are posted at Pensacola Beach and the Fort Pickens Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore remains closed.
Florida Governor Rick Scott arrived in Pensacola this morning to meet with officials and tour the affected areas. Scott received a briefing from County Administrator Jack Brown, Sheriff David Morgan, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, and John Dosh, the county’s emergency management chief. After visiting the Northpointe area, Scott headed north to Century, Fla., which was hit by a tornado last week.
The National Weather Service out of Mobile, Ala. has also dispatched a team to survey the damage in Pensacola.
How you can help
Saint Vince de Paul, located at 2200 West DeSoto Street in Pensacola, is accepting in-kind donations for families affected by Tuesday’s tornado. Donations will be accepted between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
To volunteer, contact the American Red Cross of Northwest Florida at 850-432-7601.