I am not a native Floridian and hurricanes are not something I am good at. By that I mean all of the back and forth, it is just so drawn out, which equates to me being in full on panic mode for 8 days. We have been through a few “close calls” here in the Panhandle, but Hurricane Michael in 2018 was definitely a different (terrifying) storm.
Being so close to the bay, we were under mandatory evacuation orders days before the storm was predicted to hit our little beach community. At the time we left home, Michael was scheduled to be a CAT 3 and we were not prepared for much more than that.
On our way out of town gas stations were already putting trash bags on pumps, gas and food were becoming scarce. We spent 2 days in New Orleans walking and checking storm updates. We were in one of our favorite cities but it was all a less than enjoyable experience.
We waited. We watched the storm adjust, then adjust again. It looked to land somewhere a little ways West of our Santa Rosa Beach. It is a weird feeling to be relieved that your home will be spared, but still so devastated for your neighbors. It does not sit right or feel good.
We were lucky (blessed. spared. fortunate. thankful.) but so many friends and neighbors suffered and lived through the unimaginable.
In the days and weeks after the storm, the entire Panhandle showed up for those in need. We came together as a community and supported our friends who were displaced. It was amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people.
Sadly, it was not and is not enough. There are so many folks still suffering post Hurricane Michael as they navigate a new way of living. Rebuilding takes such a long time and most of those areas are still devastated. It is a long road but I know with a lot of help the Panhandle can and will rebuild.