Bristol Creek resident Spencer Blomquist, whose home has flooded twice, used a recent public meeting hosted by his county commissioner to ask about a Flood Trends report that Escambia County knew the area where he lives was flood-prone before his house was built.
Commissioner Steven Barry called it “a very fair question” and promised to look into it.
Blomquist’s home, in the city of Cantonment near Pensacola, flooded in 2014 and again last September from Hurricane Sally’s rains. His subdivision and two others nearby were extensively flooded during those storm events.
Flood Trends reported that the county had conducted basin studies in 1994 and 1999 and knew the area was flood-prone because of the confluence just upstream of two creeks – Eleven Mile Creek and Ten Mile Creek – that collectively drain 22,000 acres.
The county knew then but still allowed more development, according to the Flood Trends report.
“Is that something that's come across your desk?” Blomquist asked the county commissioner. “Are you aware of something like this?”
Barry replied, “Some of your neighbors have been there since the first phase in '91 or '92. They've told me about the historical flooding going back to the mid-'90s. I think there might have been a big flood in '94.”
Tropical Storm Alberto caused extensive flooding across the Florida panhandle in July 1994.
“Is that something you'd look into?” Blomquist asked again.
“Yes, absolutely,” Barry said.
The county has conducted three basin studies of Eleven Mile Creek – in 1994, 1999 and 2008, according to a county source who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak.
At the time of the 1994 basin study, there were far fewer homes along that stretch of Eleven Mile Creek that’s now home to three subdivisions – Bristol Park, Bristol Creek and Ashbury Hills. The basin study found then that the smaller number of homes were at risk of flooding.
Nonetheless, home construction continued as the subdivisions filled out.
Hurricane Georges in 1998 caused flooding in the area and prompted another basin study. The 1999 basin study reportedly called for buying out some of the homes near the creek so it could be widened. It also called for constructing about 19 large water-storage ponds. None of that happened.
Blomquist’s subdivision, Bristol Creek III, was built eight years later – in 2007.
Flood Trends has submitted a public-records request for the basin studies.
MORE: Bristol Creek Resident Describes Scary Flood Experience