Panama City is still digging out from Hurricane Michael
The last time Bay County Chief of Emergency Operations Mark Bowen talked to fellow emergency workers in the outside world before Hurricane Michael cut off contact, he made a final plea: “Send everything you can.” Nearly two months later, Panama City, Mexico Beach and other parts of the Florida Panhandle hit by the strongest storm on record in the region are still trying to recover.
With 60 percent of the homes in Panama City alone destroyed, housing is squeezed dry. Only 40 FEMA trailers been set up, although about 1,500 have been approved in areas hit by the storm. Two regional hospitals remain mostly closes and nursing homes and rehabilitation centers closed. With half the schools damaged, students share campuses on split schedules. The youngest students start as early as 6 a.m. Cable and internet service is still mostly down.
In Panama City, enough trash has been hauled away to equal what the city normally produces in 12 years — and it’s less than half of what still needs to be cleared, said Mayor Greg Brudnicki. The city’s goal is to have roads or alleys cleared to every house at least by Christmas.
“We got carpet-bombed here,” he said. “Very few places went unscathed. If they did, it was a miracle.”