Even before I lived there, Pensacola was my city. It was the destination of almost every one of my childhood vacations, the place my grandmother lived, and the place I often dreamed of at night. When I first heard Journey’s song City by the Bay, I was sure it was my song and in my mind, it will always be about Pensacola because the bay was where my memories lay. Likewise, The Eagles Last Resort was always about Pensacola to me.
Pensacola is a heartbreaking city. Time and again, it has been hit by disasters, and always seems to come out the loser because of them. The city was the first settlement in North America, but you probably don’t know that because it was destroyed by a hurricane soon after. St. Augustine was then founded and not destroyed, so they are now known as the oldest city. It seems that every time the city gets over one disaster, another strikes.
Hurricanes are the disaster that comes to mind, but not all of the disasters are natural ones. Some of my earliest memories are of overheard conversations between my mother and grandmother about trains derailing. While that hasn’t happened in a long time, there are other manmade disasters that people live with every day. A large swath of land is a Superfund Site, with deadly chemicals hidden in the soil. The economy is perennially weak, with few options for employment and low wages.
In all my years living there, I saw many tropical storms, worked low-paying jobs, and had my heart broken time and again when the city I loved proved nearly unlivable for me. I finally moved away, but it still manages to break my heart.
This morning I found out on Facebook that the city had been hit by another disaster. Incredible amounts of rain fell on already saturated ground, causing floods that wiped out streets and bridges. One source cites a rainfall of nearly 27 inches in about 24 hours. Think about that for a second. 27 inches of rain in a day. That is more than many cities will see in a year. The soil in Pensacola has pretty amazing drainage ability, but even there, 27 inches is too much.
The road my mother lives on collapsed not far from her house. There is drone footage of the damage that you can see here. This is what hit closest to home for me, but there are many, many more scenes like this all over the city.
One of the most heartbreaking stories I read is that the Manna Food Bank, which serves both Escambia and Santa Rosa County, has lost its operations center in the flooding. This essential charity, which helps support those in need, cannot even accept food donations right now, much less distribute them. They are in desperate need of money.
I am sure as the story unfolds, there will be many more heartbreaks. It will take years for the area to recover, especially as resources are needed for their neighbors in Alabama and Mississippi who have been devastated by tornadoes.
These are not new photos, and really don’t have much to do with the post other than being some of my favorite places in Pensacola.