After surveying the damage Monday, Willie Betts said he'd gone through several hurricanes during his 25 years at Forest Creek Apartments but had never before been flooded out until a massive rainfall over the weekend.
The 200-unit, low-income complex sustained the most serious damage from thunderstorms in the Pensacola area. The heavy rains also washed out a couple bridges and left hundreds, including Betts, at least temporarily homeless.
Even 2004's Hurricane Ivan, the most severe storm to strike Pensacola in about 70 years, didn't flood his apartment although it did inundate some in lower-lying sections of the complex, Betts said.
"It didn't even come up through the back door then, but this time it came through back door and it came through the front door and all up under the walls," said Betts, 53. "It wasn't anything but rain that did all this. A hurricane didn't even do all of this."
He said he had up to two feet of water in his apartment in the unincorporated Warrington area on Pensacola's western boundary.
Parts of the Pensacola area absorbed 12 to 13 inches of rain during a six-hour period on Saturday, but the damage was scattered and most people in the western Florida Panhandle were unaffected.
A 23-year-old Mississippi man died Sunday at Pensacola Beach in rough Gulf of Mexico surf that accompanied the thunderstorms. Authorities had not yet released the victim's identity Monday.
Flood waters quickly dissipated in most areas once the rain stopped, Escambia County spokesman Cam Johnson said.
"Early indications are this is the second-largest amount of rain we've ever received in one day in 80 to 100 years," Johnson said. "So, that's just a lot of rain for those infrastructures and storm water systems to have to handle in such a short period of time."
Forest Creek was the hardest hit, but by Monday power had been restored to some of the units. The American Red Cross was providing food, diapers and similar necessities as well as cleanup kits.
Shelters that initially housed 115 people in Escambia County on Saturday were down to about 60 Monday morning.
The Escambia County Jail was returning to normal after losing power and sustaining damage to its air conditioning system. Industrial-size portable air conditioning units were brought in Monday to keep the inmates cool, sheriff's Sgt. Mike Ward said.
Emergency management crews were still assessing the damage but it will easily be in the millions, Johnson said. While Pensacola and other coastal areas were dry Monday, additional rain north of Pensacola washed out a road.
Saturday's deluge washed out a couple bridges on side roads but all major thoroughfares survived intact, Johnson said.
Forest Creek's management was trying to relocate residents to vacant units in the complex or another one under the same ownership, said community volunteer Laura Merritt.
While flood waters did not get into upper floor units of the complex some of those also sustained roof and ceiling damage from the rain and had mold and mildew problems, Merritt said.
She said the complex is in an area with chronic drainage problems.
"The drainage should have been fixed a long time ago," Merritt said. "If that drainage was fixed we wouldn't have had the flood and the water we had."
Johnson said the complex is near a swamp where the county has had projects to improve drainage and water quality but he was unable to immediately comment on the specifics of the Forest Creek drainage situation.
Teaching assistant Brittany Augustine, 44, said she started crying when she returned to check out her water-damaged apartment on Sunday.