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How Alabama And Florida Are Faring After Hurricane Sally

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In one Florida county, it is estimated Hurricane Sally caused $29 million in damage to roads and public buildings. And that number could go up from here. Escambia County and the city of Pensacola bore the brunt. And Dave Dunwoody of member station WUWF in Pensacola joins us this morning. Hi, Dave.

DAVE DUNWOODY, BYLINE: Hi, David. How are you doing?

GREENE: I'm OK. How are you doing? - is the question. I know your community's just been hit. I mean, what are you facing there?

DUNWOODY: Well, we're facing a massive cleanup, especially in the flood-prone areas. We still have standing water around the area. But work has been underway ever since the rain left here a couple of days ago. Utility crews have gone out - about 7,000 trucks, and work is underway to restore the part of the water system that went down and also just to get everything back up and running.

GREENE: Well, I mean, it sounds like you might have avoided the worst, but it still sounds like it was quite a storm.

DUNWOODY: It was quite a storm. And we had a visit from Gov. DeSantis yesterday - came in, surveyed the damage overhead in a Coast Guard C-130 and basically - you know, basically said, we were going - they were going to, you know, provide what the state, what the city and the county need to get back on their feet.

GREENE: Well, can I ask you - I mean, this is even harder because it's during a pandemic, when there's all this need for social distancing? Like, have shelters been able to manage the job of helping people through this?

DUNWOODY: Well, there are - of course, everybody's masking up, and they are social distancing, which makes it even tougher because in normal times like with Ivan, you know, you could just - people - put people in a shelter, and it didn't matter you know, how close they were. It's a different story now. So they are doing a good job. They have several shelters open. And they are social distancing. And everyone that walks into one of those shelters has to have a mask.

GREENE: And I guess always after a hurricane goes through this strong, there's the question of immediate needs and then long-term rebuilding. I mean, what are some of the biggest obstacles that your community is facing as we go forward here?

DUNWOODY: Well, with any huge storm, electricity is the - tops the agenda. They started out at around 200,000 people without power. They've whittled that down considerably right now. And they're also - they also have a boil-water advisory in effect. And that's every water system in the area, both large and small. And then they're dealing with the water damage from homes and businesses. And the good thing, if there is a good thing about this - a lot of people here have gone through this before with Ivan. And some people are telling me, you know, this isn't Ivan. And they're able to cope.

GREENE: Wow. I mean, it's just been so many hurricanes. It feels like things could be getting busier and busier for communities like yours.

DUNWOODY: Yeah, it will be. And it's going to be for a while yet. We've got - I haven't seen any blew roofs around here. Part of that could be because after Ivan, there became a home-hardening program.

GREENE: All right. Well, WUWF's Dave Dunwoody joining us from Pensacola, Fla. Hope your community comes back in, and thanks so much for telling us about the situation there.

DUNWOODY: OK, thank you. And it will come back. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.