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News Release

Emergency Program Repairs University Flood Damage

GAINESVILLE, Fla., July 23, 2014—The torrential rainstorm that dumped more than 20 inches on Pensacola, Fla., April 30th caused flash floods that turned roads into rivers and collapsed them, closed Interstate 10 and left 30,000 people without power.  Gully continues to erode, affecting the water quality of Thompson Bayou that discharges into Escambia BayThe University of West Florida did not escape unscathed, and workers are scrambling to make repairs before school starts next month.

Just 15 feet west of the heavily-traveled four-lane Campus Drive that loops through the college campus and across from the intramural fields, the storm gouged out a gully 300-feet long and 20-feet deep. (top photo) The unstable gully slopes are toppling trees on two sides and threatening to collapse the roadway, the adjacent student parking lot and take out a stormwater outlet that drains runoff from the campus grounds into a 50-acre area. A natural gas main has been exposed and sediment accumulating at the bottom of the gully Sediment at the bottom of the gully at the confluence with Thompson Bayouis discharging into Thompson Bayou and subsequently into Escambia Bay. (bottom photo)

The University of West Florida contacted USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service for financial assistance through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to repair the damages and prevent the road from failing.  NRCS will provide 75 percent of the estimated $700,000 to install a structure to convey the stormwater runoff to a safe outlet and stabilize the gully embankments to protect the road and stop the erosion. Officials expect to complete the work by Aug. 26.

The Emergency Watershed Protection Program alleviates hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, wind­storms and other natural occurrences.  Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance, but must be represented by a project sponsor, such as a city, county, conservation district or any Native American tribe or tribal organization.

“The University of West Florida has worked with NRCS in the past. The financial assistance from the Emergency Watershed Program and the expertise of the NRCS engineering staff has allowed us to do quality rehabilitation at these sites that will last for many years,” said Ron Northrup, UWF facility engineer.  

Visit a local NRCS office or check the website for more information about the Emergency Watershed Protection program. 

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

Contact:  Renee Bodine, 352-338-9565 or Josh McElhaney, 850-587-5404