A View from the Eye of Michael

It Started a New Adventure

Just over one month ago, at the age of 31, I abandoned the life I built in Memphis, Tennessee, gathered up everything I could, and closed on the purchase of my first house in Panama City, Florida. My family was supportive of my move and even pitched in to help me purchase some newish furniture and decor for my new home.


On September 28, I signed the mortgage papers, spending more money than I had ever spent in my entire life to start a new adventure in a city located 9 hours driving distance from everything I had ever known. The end of September 2018 was an exciting time for me, full of promise and potential.


house with wind-chimes in front
My new house in PC, FL with an anchor decoration that I designed and made and the Amazing Grace wind chimes given to me by my sister.

Staring Down the Eye

On October 9 Hurricane Michael introduced himself into my life. To put it simply, if Hurricane Michael had been an athlete, it would have qualified for the Olympics (See storm stats at end of post). Just 10 days after signing closing documents on my house, I saw the eye of this Cat 4 hurricane pass over my head and watched everything I had just purchased and made my own spread like ashes across four acres of neighborhood and become debris before my eyes.





I watched my outdoor shop blow over into my cars. I literally watched my carport blow off and over my house, taking out the chimney and carrying it to a massive pile of debris that had become my backyard.



I watched my garden shed come apart and pile across the ground like spilled matches and the roof blow out of sight.


I could hear 75 ft pines crack and hit my house above my head.


I stood in my living room and watched Hurricane Michael pour rain into my new home.


It Rained in my House

My brain was in shock. I watched in disbelief as Michael rained on my new couch. On my new television. Ruined my new bed, and eventually blew the entire roof off my new room.



The walls of My New House Spilled Water

In the hours after Michael had finally passed, there was standing water on every single floor except one back bedroom. Every room but one had water dripping from the ceiling, furniture, and walls.


On the first night after the hurricane, I slept on some towels on the only dry spot in the house with my dog, Sarah. The nights after that I slept in the seats of my truck with the engine running.


In minutes, I lost every material thing. Even three weeks later (now), the comprehension of this fact is still surreal, and I am not sure I know how to understand it or come to terms with it.


Photo taken 10-23-2018 (2 weeks after Hurricane Michael).

Thanks for Caring about Me (and all of the Hurricane Michael victims)

We don't want to be thought of as victims. But, I've heard that there are school children attending classes in the same set of clothes every day. People ask me often what they can send to me in care packages or whatnot. Although I greatly appreciate all of the love, I just have to say, nothing you can put in a box will fix this. For context, maybe it will help people understand that Wal-Mart is still running on generators and I still have to drive 30 minutes to get gasoline. So, when I go, I fill up the 6 gas cans my family sent/brought me to save time and money. (The hurricane hit 30 days ago, people. Why aren't things being fixed faster?)


What do I need?

I need to work. I need to continue to earn money since the bills don't ever stop. Seriously, I just got a Comcast bill today even though we haven't had internet since October 9. Seriously. So, please send work my way, send contractors to fix our homes (hell, we even need capable people to assess the damage so our insurance companies can know how much to pay) .


Gratefulness

To end on a positive note, I'll say this. I'm grateful that my dog and I survived without injury. I'm grateful that I have a supportive family that loves me and encourages me every day. Somedays are good for me, and I can really believe things will get better. But, at the end of the day, when I'm tired and sleeping in a travel camper, I struggle to find the stamina and the hope that I need to persevere.




Hurricane Michael Storm Stats (That you probably haven't heard.)

  • Patrick O'Neal, the Georgia Commissioner of Public Health labeled Hurricane Michael the most expensive disaster the state of Georgia has ever seen.

  • Michael, a category 4 hurricane was the strongest storm on record (EVER) to hit the Florida Panhandle.

  • It was the 2nd strongest storm (EVER) to hit the state of Florida.

  • Michael was the third most powerful hurricane, in terms of pressure, (EVER) to hit the contiguous U.S.

  • Every standing structure suffered damage on nearby Tyndall Air Force Base. As of month month after Michael, it's still unclear whether Tyndall will reopen anytime soon.

  • In terms of wind speed, Michael was the fourth strongest storm (EVER) to hit the U.S.

  • Michael caused the greatest timber disaster in American history including $1.3 billion in timber industry damages in Florida alone.

  • Total damages are estimated in excess of $11 billion, and the storm took the lives of 60 people.

credit: Associated Press