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Rick Scott declares state of emergency, pledges funds after Escambia tornado damage

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Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency and authorized the release of state funds in the wake of severe tornado damage in the Escambia County city of Century last week which saw wind gusts of over 150 miles per hour tear through the Panhandle town, causing severe damage to numerous houses and buildings.

Scott, in issuing Executive Order 16-54, acknowledged the emergency circumstances in Century and authorized state officials to step in to cope with the disaster.

The order names the Director of the Division of Emergency ServicesBryan Koon, as the State Coordinating Officer in charge of the relief effort, and releases State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) funding to help finance mitigating damage to homes there.

In that capacity Koon will seek relief from the federal government and oversee state efforts in Century.

According to a survey of the damage by the National Weather Service of the storms – which hit Northwest Florida on Feb. 15 – several structures were ruined or severely damaged by the winds and rain.

“Numerous homes were damaged or destroyed,” according to the report. “A couple of homes experienced complete loss of the roof with only the walls of the small interior rooms remaining… Extensive tree damage with numerous softwood and hardwood trees either snapped or uprooted. Several power poles were also snapped.”

The Escambia County Commission declared their own state of emergency last week, on Feb. 18.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at [email protected]

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