I just saw a convoy of bucket trucks heading down the road. They had been sitting in cow pasture near us when Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle, all ready to be deployed to the coast, and begin repairs to the devastation left by a Category 4 hurricane on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Hurricane Michael: What Happened
I can’t stop looking at the photos filling up my Facebook feed. Before and after pics of Mexico Beach, ground-zero for the storm. Those mind-blowing videos taken during the wrath of the storm– when the gulf water level rose 12 to 14 feet- engulfing the houses, with winds up to 155 mph- nearly a Cat 5 hurricane, ripping across Florida’s Gulf Coast community
There’s so much destruction: $8 billion worth of damage and rising. Beach front houses and businesses completely leveled to the ground. 1.5 million homes are still without power (10/12/18)
People died. According to CBS news as of early Friday afternoon, the count is at 12, but with communication lines down, there is no telling how many more. 285 people ignored the mandatory evacuation order and stayed in Mexico Beach. Last year’s devastating Hurricane Irma claimed 134 lives.
When you are issued a mandatory evacuation notice, it is up to you to pack and leave. You must rely on your own transportation (and gas). The traffic on the roads will be congested with everyone else evacuating, and often the gas stations on route will run out of gas. If you don’t go to the nearest shelter, or the shelter is full, you must find and pay for your own accommodations to sit out the storm.
Hurricanes are a fact of life in Florida. The price of paradise, some even joke about, but the truth of the matter is we are like the bowling pins in a game- we know the hurricane is headed in our direction, we just hope we aren’t one of those pins that will get knocked over.
On October 10th, Mexico Beach, a quiet seaside community of 1,200 residents was that unlucky bowling pin. Unlike the other coastal towns, it was unprotected by the barrier islands, and as a result received the full brunt of the storm.
Hurricane Michael Recovery: What’s Happening Now
- Florida Governor Rick Scott has deployed 3,500 national guard troops and Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal has activated 1,500 troops to aid in the recovery and clean-up.
- Bay County and Panama City are currently under a boil water notice and a dusk to dawn enforced curfew.
Hurricane Michael Resources:
- If you were affected by the hurricane- FEMA has a page on their website where you can file a claim and access resources. This is for Florida and Georgia residents. Links are on both the left and right side of the page to file claims.
- 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA)
What You Can Do to Help
Do you feel overwhelmed by this disaster and want to help? You are not alone. However, FEMA Administrator Brock Long advises against the general public showing up in the disaster zone to help. Many roads are washed out and places still inaccessible. You may be more of a hindrance than a help.
Consider signing up with a registered disaster aid to volunteer in person. You can also donate money to a licensed & registered charity.
Our county seat has organized a Hurricane Michael Disaster Relief Campaign (Marion County, FL). They are accepting donations like non-perishable food & toiletry items (not just money) at various locations in Ocala, Florida. Check with your local chamber for similar relief collections.
A Note About Monetary Donations: Many unscrupulous people may wish to take advantage of this catastrophe. Do NOT hand your donation money over unless you know you are giving it to a reliable source. FEMA has a list of charitable organizations on their website.