Hurricane Sally’s high winds pushed a barge into Pensacola Bay Bridge between the Pensacola, Fla., mainland and Gulf Breeze, Fla., a barrier island, after the storm came ashore the morning of Sept. 16 in nearby Gulf Shores, Ala., as a Category 2 storm.
Photos showed that a section of the structure, known to locals as Three Mile Bridge, had broken away.
“We have received a report that a piece of the Three Mile Bridge is missing,” wrote Santa Rosa County Emergency Management in a social media post.
“Just know it will be a while before you can use that bridge again,” said Brad Barker, public safety director of Santa Rosa County, in a video posted to the Santa Rosa County Emergency Management’s Facebook page at 1 p.m. eastern on Sept. 16.
Other photos (see above) showed a crane had fallen across one end of the bridge, the east span of which was opened last September. The west span is slated to open in 2021.
Later, the department reported that the only other bridge off the island, the Garcon Point Bridge, had been closed because a loose barge had come to rest against that bridge. Barker said that the barge that had hit the bay bridge had been secured.
Skanska was the contractor on the Pensacola Bay Bridge, and a story in the Pensacola News Journal said the barge belonged to Skanska.
“We are aware of the impact on the Pensacola Bay Bridge project stemming from the unforeseen effects of Hurricane Sally,” Skanska said in an emailed statement to ENR. “At this time, our main priority is the safety of our team members and the surrounding community. We remain in close communication with local authorities and the Florida Dept. of Transportation, and will assess the full impact to the project in coordination with them once it is safe to do so.”
Barker told the News Journal that an inspection of the bridge may occur as early as Thursday, Sept. 17.
Emergency managers in Santa Rosa County reported that a new retention pond under construction in Milton had exceeded its capacity. More than 30 in. of rain was reported to have fallen in the county.
“The new Pace Patriot/Tiberon pond that is under construction still lacks critical infrastructure elements and will not function as designed,” the county posted on its official Facebook page. “There is concern that the pond may breach the berm, which will cause a serious and dangerous situation.”
Florida's Gulf Power reports 231,580 customers still without power as of Wednesday night, or just about half of its total users.
Prior to Sally's arrival, the company had assembled a restoration workforce of more than 2,000, said Gulf Power President Marlene Santos in a statement. “Our team has been restoring power since the first bands of severe weather began to hit overnight.”
Alabama Power outage numbers were not immediately available, but wide swaths of the Gulf Coast are currently without power.