As some of you may know, I lived and worked in Northwest Florida for over 3 years. My former stomping grounds sustained massive damage from Hurricane Michael.
I feel so helpless as I see people I know and care about posting photos of the damage to their homes on Facebook. None have power and many lack water. I also feel grateful to no longer live there.
Schools are damaged or destroyed. Both hospitals in Panama City are closed to all but emergency cases and are evacuating patients to other areas. Law enforcement are not allowing people to re-enter the area.
Yesterday I watched videos posted by journalists riding around and I didn’t recognize where they were, though I’d bet you I’ve driven on every main road in Bay County at least once.
When I lived and worked in Panama City, where 22% of residents live in poverty, I saw things such as (and no, these were not rare occurrences):
- unpaved roads of red dirt and sand that were filled with deep ruts after a prolonged rain (there are many such roads in the Florida panhandle)
- homes that reeked of mold and where heavy rugs covered the soft spots in the floor
- people who lacked transportation and either depended on public transportation or paid neighbors or family members to take them places
- homeless people hanging out near my home while waiting for the nearby shelter to open late in the afternoon so they could grab a meal before heading for an encampment on the bayou
- people sleeping on the back stoop of an empty office building, and on several occasions I found them in my neighbor’s yard
The Florida Panhandle is a Republican stronghold where some people believe that all you need is God and (lots of) guns. A sizable number of residents distrust all forms of government. I can’t imagine how it’s going to go with them trying to maneuver the FEMA system to obtain help.
I worry about the opiate addicts who will no doubt suffer withdrawals because they are unable to obtain drugs. I worry about the grandparents who were already stretched thin caring for their grandchildren.
I’m also concerned for the mental health of every resident who has seen their community destroyed.
If you are able to donate to help in the recovery effort, please give to reputable nonprofits. You can donate to the Florida Disaster Relief Fund using the link or text “DISASTER” to 20222 to make a one-time $10 donation that will be added to your phone bill.
The Community Foundation of Middle TN has opened its’ Music City Cares campaign to raise funds for nonprofits providing help on the ground in the Panhandle area.
Also, you can donate to the American Red Cross using this link or text MICHAEL to 90999 for a one-time $10 donation.
And please keep them in your thoughts today and for many days to come.
12 thoughts on “The Aftermath of Michael”
It’s so overwhelming, all that’s happening to so many. And all one/I can do is donate, one simple act of kindness at a time. But it is so far from enough. Thanks for this.
It is. We have widespread flood damage in the Carolinas. Wildfire damage in the western part of the country. Puerto Rico is still struggling. And now this. But I have to say that this seems even more real because I know the place and its people. I guess you know that feeling all to well.
Thank you for this post, I shared it on my personal facebook page and Dakota’s page (couldn’t tag you, I tried!! I included the link to your post)……and I tweeted it and pinned it.
Thank you! I have my privacy settings so only people that know me can find me. Not real keen on some people I’ve worked with previously seeing my posts.
I visited Panama City Beach for a week in September 1995 with some friends and stayed in a spacious condo that overlooked the Gulf. We all had a great time! We left on a Saturday evening, and just before we headed out, I noticed the skies had turned grayish white and were moving northward. The surf had already begun to pick up. I had also happened to see a report on the Weather Channel about a tropical system that had formed in the Bay of Campeche a couple of days earlier and speculated aloud that it was probably causing those cloudy conditions in PCB. My friends doubted it; saying that storm was too far off to impact Florida yet. I reminded them those systems can impact wind and water hundreds of miles away.
That storm system because Hurricane Opal, which crashed into PCB that following week. It was the first time since U.S. meteorologists had begun naming tropical storm systems in 1953 that the Atlantic/Caribbean group reach the letter ‘O’. That year, 1995, turned out to be the busiest on record for the Atlantic/Caribbean since 1932. The following year was even busier than that and held the record for the largest number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic/Caribbean, until 2005.
I wondered about all the people we’d encountered in PCB and how they made it through the storm. One of my friends had grown up just across the state line in southern Alabama and remembered when Hurricane Eloise hit in September 1975. It created a gigantic row of sand dunes right along the beach that were still in place when I visited. He told us the beach front had been relatively flat until then.
From what I’ve seen online the beach is in pretty good shape. Signs down and flooding but most structures are still standing. That’s a good thing because much of the money that comes into the area does so through tourism.
It’s horrible to hear about anytime such a disaster strikes, but to know the place before and to see photos now is very hard to bear. I feel so sad for those who are struggling through this.
The cycle of destruction from storms seems to go round and round. You are lucky to have moved away.
I do feel very fortunate, while also feeling a bit of survivor’s remorse.
That is way too much for you to carry on your mind. I see you are a thinker and maybe an over-thinker. Society is different now. Ethics are non-existent. And people don’t modify behavour and spending according to what they can afford or maintaine. It’s all part of a bigger picture. I worry too. All I can do is try to do the right thing and try to help where I can even in small ways and hope for the best. I’ll be old one day too if I’m lucky. Cheers,H
The situation is so sad, and utterly overwhelming. I can’t even begin to imagine. 😦