Hurricane Sally Strikes Severe Blow to Perdido Key
It was supposed to be a Category 1 storm with a lot of rain, but Hurricane Sally turned into a dangerous and multimillion dollar disaster for Perdido Key and its neighbors. The storm pummeled our area beginning on Tuesday September 15 and did not end until late afternoon on Wednesday September 16. Those who rode it out will remember its howling winds and brutal rainfall for a good long time. Almost every residence and business on Perdido Key was affected in some way by the storm as the debris lining
Perdido Key Drive, River Road, and other island streets attest. Driving around Escambia County one quickly recognizes that Perdido Key was not alone in having significant damage; the loss of life from the storm was particularly tragic. Looking forward, many roads were re-opened quickly as downed trees and other debris were pushed aside; water service followed relatively soon for most and the great number of power company vehicles in the County attested to the enormous efforts made at power restoration. We thank our first responders and local and supporting utilities for their
concern and work to keep Perdido Key residents, guests and our neighbors safe and moving forward as quickly as possible to some sort of normalcy.
Johnson Beach Breaches and Oil
The Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore was particularly affected by Hurricane Sally. Closed after the storm, the park reopened on Saturday, October 3, 2020. Sally tore four breaches in the remote eastern portion of the park south of Robertson Island leaving three islands in its wake. According to Park Superintendent Dan Brown, similar breaches have happened before because of the narrowness and low level of the park in that area. Because Pensacola Pass traps much of the east-west flow of sand along the Northwest Florida Coast, Superintendent Brown does not expect
natural process to heal the breaches. Sally also destroyed the Discovery Trail not far from the park entrance. For more on the park see the September 22, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “A Florida Island has turned into multiple islands after Hurricane Sally slices through” by Kevin Robinson at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/09/22/hurricane-sally-forms-threebreaches-floridas-east-perdido-key/5863650002/ and the October 2, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “Some Gulf Islands National Seashore areas begin reopening on Saturday” at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/10/02/gulf-islands-national-seashoreareas-begin-reopening-saturday/3596193001/.
Hurricane Sally was also undoubtedly responsible for five miles of oil covered beaches on the National Seashore. The source of the oil has not yet been determined, but oil remaining from the 2010 BP oil spill and churned up by the storm comes to mind. According to environmental specialist Sava Varazo, however, the oil on the Seashore does not have the “right consistency or color.” “When you have a storm of this magnitude that lasts as long as it did, you have a lot of devastation. Due to all the vessels that sunk, you’re going to find more of these oil slicks coming to the surface and
being reported.” For more on this issue, see the September 29, 2020 WEAR report “More oil washes up along 5 miles of Johnson Beach on Perdido Key” by Rebekah Castor at https://weartv.com/news/local/more-oil-washes-up-along-5-miles-of-johnsonbeach-on-perdido-key.
Getting Help after Sally
With a major disaster declaration for Florida from Hurricane Sally, federal assistance will be available to local governments. After a flurry of action by local government leaders and thousands of submitted photos and testimony about the effects of Hurricane Sally, on October 2, 2020 Escambia County announced that FEMA Individual Disaster Assistance would also be available. Aid can be requests in three ways:
Call 1-800-621-3362 (TTY# 1-800-462-7585)
Register online at disasterassistance.gov
Download the FEMA app on your mobile device and register using the app.
For more on aid, see the October 2, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “FEMA individual assistance approved for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay” by Kevin Robinson at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/10/02/fema-individualassistance-approved-hurricane-sally-escambia-santa-rosa-okaloosa-waltonbay/5895110002/.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was activating the “small business emergency loan program to provide short-term, interest free loans to business that were hurt by Hurricane Sally.” For additional information on post-Sally assistance issues, see the September 23, 2020 article “Escambia County officials ask for photos of Hurricane Sally damage to unlock FEMA help” at
https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/09/23/escambia-county-asks-photos-hurricanesally-damage-unlock-fema-help/3507220001/ and the
September 24, 2020 article “Hurricane Sally a ‘major disaster’ but no individual assistance coming without public’s help” at
https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/09/24/trump-declares-disaster-in-floridaescambia-county-from-hurricane-sally/3515463001/, both by Jim Little in the Pensacola News Journal.
Helping after Sally
Financial contributions to support Hurricane Sally recovery efforts can be made to the American Red Cross at https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricanes-sally-and-lauradonations.html/ and to United Way of West Florida by donating to UWWF’s Hurricane
Sally Relief Fund – text 850RELIEF to 41444 or visit www.uwwf.org/850RELIEF. To volunteer for restoration projects, “create a profile through UWWF’s online volunteer portal GET CONNECTED, by visiting uwwf.galaxydigital.com. BRACE will recruit volunteers by using this platform.” Information drawn from September 24, 2020
Pensacola News Journal article “How to help support Hurricane Sally Recovery.”
Big Lagoon State Park needs a great deal of cleanup before it is fully recovered from the storm and welcomes volunteers to help from 7 AM until 3 PM, Monday through Friday.
Snakes may be under those piles of debris along the roads and rusty nails
Waterways are not safe because of debris
Bacteria may be in local waters and oil in coastal waters – for Escambia
County Food Safety Guidelines go to https://www.myescambia.com/ourservices/natural-resources-management/marine-resources/seafood-safety
Some information drawn from September 25, 2020 Sea Grant Notes at
Post-Sally Quick Notes
Local recycling is closed while ECUA’s facility undergoes repairs
For Escambia County road closures go to www.myescambia.com/roadissuesmap
A section of recently renovated Gulf State Park Pier was taken out
Perdido Key Visitor Information Centers is closed until further notice
Pensacola Bay Bridge will be closed for months after being struck by some of the 22 Skanska construction barges that broke free during the storm; Garcon Point Bridge tolls are suspended until 6 AM on October 23; Bob Sikes Bridge to Pensacola Beach was damaged but remains open with restrictions
Some information drawn from Visit Pensacola website at
Riding Out Sally
Many have stories about Hurricane Sally blasting through our area. Here is one from Rick O’Connor, Escambia County’s Sea Grant Representative, at
Oct 01-31 – Destin Fishing Rodeo
Oct 03 – Free Pensacola Opera Al Fresco Concert at Bayview Park
Oct 03,04 – Southeast Stock Horse Show at 7750 Mobile Highway
Oct 03-31 – OWA Park after Dark
October 04,11,18 – Pensacola Beach Art Walk on the Boardwalk
Oct 07-10 – Alabama Coastal Birdfest 2020 in Spanish Fort
October 11 – Flora-Bama’s Annual Oktoberfest
Oct 15 – Deadline for early sign-up Red, White & Birdies Golf Classic, PBGC
Oct 17 – Free Pensacola Opera Al Fresco Concert at Bryan Park
Oct 17 – Pumpkin Patch at Blue Wahoo Stadium (handmade glass and ceramic)
Oct 24 – Spooky Movie on the Lawn at The Wharf
Oct 24 – Free Pensacola Opera Al Fresco Concert at Magee Field
Oct 25 – Ghoulish Movie on the Lawn at The Wharf
Oct 30 – Flicks on the Field at Pensacola Greyhound Park Halloween Edition
Oct 31 – Elberta German Sausage Festival
The following websites provide additional information about events taking place in our
great Gulf Coast region:
Perdido Key Association