September 16th has been a bad day for John Minor’s hometown of Pensacola. This is the second time we have had a hurricane on this date. This storm surprised us with sustained winds of 105 MPH and the wind and surge from what was supposed to be minimal Cat 1 hitting Bay St Louis that ended up stalling as it came ashore as a strong Category 2 hurricane. Wind gusts of 121 MPH at Fort Morgan and 137 MPH at an 18m-high tower at Ingram Bayou were collected after the storm.
This was not the wind of Hurricane Ivan that also came in on this date back in 2004 but it was a longer, wet storm and when the lights are out and the roof is off it feels similar. Most of what I am seeing is floodwater everywhere, trees down and shingles off, along with flat roofs from the many older structures in the country’s oldest city. Pensacola was initially settled as early as 1559 so we have some history here. The 3 Mile Bridge or Highway 98 is damaged which connects Santa Rosa and points east to Escambia County. The 3-mile is a critical piece of NW Florida traffic movement and is causing huge challenges for everyone, myself included, as we take an hour and a half to go around what used to be called “Bo’s” bridge, a now well-thought of Garcon Point Bridge. This is a bridge that was not popular and was lambasted by locals but sure is getting some use now. The near 5 dollar toll has been waived by the governors’ office as 5 times the amount of people take the bridge each morning and afternoon on their now 11-plus-hour work day.
The loss of the bridge to Skanska barges is something that will be studied and I am sure litigated. They will all hire Certified Consulting Meteorologists like we possess in our firm as well as engineers and experts in Admiralty law to determine what they knew and when. These answers will be fed into the terms of the contract and good practice and in the end I believe we will see what was just a mistake. I am in the field in my own home town with my team of property damage experts as we go from location to location assessing and establishing values and damage for our local property managers, officials, and national clients.
Pensacola is a town of winners and we will be back in shape before the next Blue Angels show. Just Watch!