Hurricane Michael Recovery

Valerie Crowder

Two former Lynn Haven city officials are facing federal charges for allegedly paying two local contractors $5 million for Hurricane Michael cleanup that they never completed and then accepting kickbacks from those business owners. 

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at a podium in his Press Office
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis released his wish list for the 2020-2021 budget. It totals 91.4 billion, with much of that $400 million increase going to education. 

A pine tree that fell due to Hurricane Michael with an artificial cavity insert for Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers at Tall Timbers.
Eleanor Clark / WFSU-FM

Florida is the first state to receive block grants for the timber industry from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Florida Forest Service director Jim Karels  says there’s a good chance state block grants will be approved to help North Florida’s ailing timber industry. The subject-specific grants have never been given out for timber anywhere in the nation by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Patronis is wearing a suit and tie. He's standing at a podium in front of a row of plush seats. The american flag is behind him. A reporter's head is in the foreground.
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is advocating for a "one-size-fits-all" insurance policy that would apply no matter how a house is damaged.

Valerie Crowder

Hundreds gathered in Mexico Beach on Thursday to celebrate the community’s resiliency one year after Hurricane Michael decimated the small coastal town. 

Construction machinery breaks down what's left of Hangar 5 on Tyndall Air Force Base
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

A year ago, Hurricane Michael steamrolled through the Florida panhandle, damaging nearly everything in its path - including three military bases along its route--Tyndall Air Force, the Navy’s naval support facility, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Blaise Gainey reports on efforts to fix what the storm broke.

The side of  a town house is almost so damaged you can see through it. Behind the structure is a beautiful blue sky.
Erich Martin

Just a year after Category 5 Hurricane Michael swept through Florida’s panhandle, the residents in the area are still feeling the aftermath.

Michael wiped through the city of Mexico Beach, ruining homes and businesses in its path. Florida Public Radio Emergency Network Meteorologist, Jeff Huffman, described the hurricane as one of the most historic storms the Panhandle has seen.

Disused kiosk with garbage on top of it.
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

Greenwood's only grocery store caught fire after Hurricane Michael. A year after the storm, it still hasn’t been replaced. The residents of the Jackson County city are banding together to assist elderly and low-income neighbors who can’t travel to find fresh food.

drone photo showing many lots with missing houses and a few homes still standing near the beach
Erich Martin

Officials estimate there are still years of recovery left after Hurricane Michael slammed into the panhandle this time last year.  But for many who are living in tents or doubled up in homes still in disrepair, that’s too long, and insurance companies are bearing part of the blame for what some see as a slow recovery.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Following Hurricane Michael’s destructive path through Florida’s panhandle, headlines painted a grim future for timber, a major industry in the region. The losses were huge – valued at $1.3 billion. Yet not all was lost, as some lumber and paper mills in the region are still going strong.

Trees are broken and crumbled onto a house in a Panama City neighborhood after Hurricane Michael.
Briney King

One year after Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, children and adults are still struggling with the catastrophe and the changes. Homes and schools were damaged, livelihoods were destroyed, and recovery has been slow.

Michael was Tanner Livingston’s first hurricane. “When they still talk about hurricanes, I’m still afraid of them,” he says during an open house at Deer Point Elementary, where he’s a kindergartner.

The family’s Lynn Haven home in Bay County was damaged, and Tanner recounts in detail what happened after they hid in his mom’s closet.

Valerie Crowder

At least 90% of structures in Panama City were damaged in Hurricane Michael. One year later, city officials are about to resume code enforcement actions, and residential property owners say they’re ready for the city to begin cracking down on neglected lots that pose a health and safety hazard to their neighborhoods.

The front of a building is torn off. A hurricane Evacuation Route signs sits on top of the rubble.
Regan McCarthy

Last year, after Hurricane Michael wrought havoc in the Panhandle, school officials began raising concerns about an emergent mental health crisis among students. Bay County Superintendent Bill Hussfelt said in the first four months following the storm, 70 kids had been involuntarily held for mental health treatment through the Baker Act. But in the first two months of this school year, 50 students have already been institutionally committed. 

Valerie Crowder

Mexico Beach is receiving the first grant from $25 million in state Hurricane Michael recovery aid that became available to communities in early September. 

Tyndall Air Force Base Facebook Page

Tyndall Air Force officials are working out how they will execute a years-long series of construction projects to rebuild more than half of the military base. 

 

Tom Flanigan

More kids in the area hit by Hurricane Michael last year will soon be sleeping better thanks to another volunteer bed-building effort. This morning’s (Tuesday, July 23) construction site was in the parking lot of Tallahassee’s Texas Road House Restaurant.

Valerie Crowder

One hundred children in Bay County now have their own beds to sleep in at night.