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After The Floods, Gulf Coast Towns Dig Out From Muck And Mud


People who live along the Alabama coast and parts of the Florida panhandle are cleaning up after being drenched in heavy rains. More than 30 people died. Florida officials are calling this the worst flooding in decades. Reporter Sandra Averhart of member station WUWF reports on a community picking up the pieces.

SANDRA AVERHART, BYLINE: In the small community of Floridatown, piles of wet carpet are stacked up outside the single-story brick home of Joshua Condon. Inside, the drying out has begun. A big industrial fan is blowing in the back bedroom.


JOSHUA CONDON: Well, right now, we're just trying to get all the wet stuff out and, you know, get these walls cut open where we can get the walls exposed so the house doesn't get ruined with mold, you know.

AVERHART: Condon has lived in the house with his girlfriend for the past eight years and says they never had a flood. He was working out of town when he got the call and rushed home.

CONDON: When I first walked in the door, it was just mud everywhere, just mud and leaves and debris.


AVERHART: Since arriving back home, Condon has been busy removing wet baseboards, which come off easily after a bit of hammering and prodding.

CONDON: Pretty much everything that got wet is going to have to be removed from this home and it's going to be a costly project, I can see. Probably have to use some type of chemical spray to prevent the mold because if you get the black mold in these homes, they're pretty much ruined.

AVERHART: And Condon says he doesn't have flood insurance. Scenes like this one are being repeated all up and down the street, with receding water and large piles of wet debris. Across the area, businesses are also cleaning up, and in Escambia County, the main food pantry for the Pensacola region was destroyed. It was flooded with four feet of water, the foundation compromised and nearly all of the food ruined in a warehouse that just got four new freezers. DeDe Flounlacker is director of Manna Food Pantries, which used to feed about 100 people a day.

DEDE FLOUNLACKER: We are not going to be able to resume service for a while, and I really don't know what a while would be. Right now, we're in the process of just trying to figure out if we have some structural damage, trying to do some clean up, keeping everybody safe is very important. I'm hoping that one of the things that we'll come to a conclusion is finding a new location, because this is our second flood in less than two years. And I just don't know how we're going to be able to stay at this site.

AVERHART: Back in Floridatown, Joshua Condon is planning to stay but he knows he has a lot of work ahead of him.

CONDON: Glad it came down as quick as it did and didn't stay, you know, and we were able to get back in here as soon as we did. But we're still a long ways away.

AVERHART: For NPR News, I'm Sandra Everhart in Pensacola. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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