BY: Wesley Martin
“Nobody has answers at the apartment complex,” said Amanda Henry of Forest Creek apartments in Warrington. “Everybody is being told different things.”
Less than two weeks ago, Henry and her 11-month-old son lost most of their personal belongings due to the heavy storm and floodwaters that damaged her apartment. With only one day to salvage what she could, Henry said she still is waiting for answers from Forest Creek on when she’ll be able to return to her home.
“They just said once your apartment is finished with no definite date,” she said referring to what management told her. “If I would’ve known that [Forest Creek] flooded twice before this time, I would not have moved in.”
“The [American] Red Cross is the primary lead when it comes to emergency assistance and placing individuals in temporary housing when a natural disaster happens,” said Gene M. Valentino, Escambia County Commissioner for District 2. “The county’s role is to secure housing grants and rehabilitation programs, but in the time of an emergency, it’s the Red Cross that takes the lead.”
“About 70 percent of the impacted areas from this event occurred in my district,” Valentino added. “Half of the county’s waterfront is in my district.”
Valentino said that because a large percentage of District 2 is low-lying waterfront areas, wetland or coastal height hazard areas, his district was heavily impacted. While some of his constituents believe he could care less about their plight, he strongly disagrees.
Valentino says he reported to the emergency operation center at 2:47 p.m. the Saturday of the storm to assist citizens and to begin responding to various distress situations.
“I had teams of people out in various parts on the county to assess damage and to develop a strategy on how to respond,” Valentino said.
The Commissioner said he believes the damage in Escambia County from the storms is well over $25 million.
“But,” said Valentino, “it’s just an initial assessment. We fear the underpinnings of our support structures and the surfaces of roads have been compromised,” he said. “It will evidence itself within the next six months to a year.”
“The problem I have is that unlike many other areas in the nation, we lag behind in our effectiveness with land development and planning,” Valentino continued. “The storm showed the shortcomings of the system.”
At press time a representative from both Forest Creek Apartments and Marquis Asset Management were not available for comment.