Carnage and Courage in Post-Michael Panama City

While this is tough to share, it is also humbling and inspiring.  Hurricane Michael was the strongest hurricane to hit US shores since Andrew.  Practically speaking, it was pretty much a Cat 5 when it hit the shore the Florida panhandle on October 10, 2018.  With sustained winds of 155 mph, it was just a shade under the 156 mph rank for a Cat 5.  We heard reports, however, of gusts up to 178.  One hundred and seventy-eight miles an hour.  Can you even imagine?  I think it might peel the skin off of your face.  I honestly don’t know and don’t want to.  Although Phillip and I are incredibly grateful for how lucky we were that Michael did make that anticipated hook to the east and missed us entirely here in Pensacola, it is a stark reminder of how close we came to having our downtown, our homes, and our marinas and boats here in Pensacola look like this.

Phillip and I recently had the opportunity to travel to Panama City to deliver hurricane relief supplies to a local church that had put together a drive.  We wanted to go to offer our help, of course, but I have to be honest when I say I also wanted to go to see, to document, and to share. Hurricanes are horrific.  They’re terrifying and infinitely stronger than you can imagine.  Those who have the means to evacuate if a cyclone anywhere close to a Cat 5 is coming, but don’t simply because they feel they can somehow save their house, business, or boat if they stay behind, I hope footage like this can help educate.

The damage in Panama City (the only location we went to) was primarily from wind.  While the damage from a hurricane is typically some combination of wind and water via a storm surge, it did not appear in the areas we went to that Panama City experienced a large storm surge.  There were no signs of mud slathered across the streets or water lines on the buildings to suggest that.  Rather, it seemed in Panama City wind was the deadliest force.  It shocked Phillip and I to see entire fields of trees, hundreds of them, all snapped clean in half.  Just from the wind.  Seeing them all cracked over, my mind instantly tried to re-create the scene mentally watching full-blown, thick-trunked trees breaking from the sheer force of the wind.  I could almost hear their horrific cries.  I don’t want to visualize these scenes.  My mind forces me to when I see damage like this.  It is a humbling reminder of who is in charge on this earth, and why we should make a much greater, collective effort to treat her better, to help heal her so we do not feel her wrath as frequently.

While I share this footage to educate, I also want to shine a spotlight on the many, many volunteers we saw out, gathering and giving away supplies.  There were people on the side of the road at intersections with signs that read: “Free Lunch” or “Free Supplies.”  There were many donation stations.  Free food, water, and ice locations.  We saw dozens of freshly-mounted new powerline poles along the roads where power company employees had worked feverishly to restore power for those affected.

To the extent we saw devastating damage in Panama City, we also saw courage in the face of disaster.  People can sometimes be awful, selfish, terrible things, but it’s nice to be reminded that other times they can be generous, brave, and kind.  Here is a link to the American Red Cross’s Hurricane Michael Relief Page if you, too, would like to help the Hurricane Michael relief efforts.  To those affected in Panama City, Mexico Beach, Tallahassee, and the surrounding areas, our hearts and thoughts are with you as you regroup and rebuild.


11 thoughts on “Carnage and Courage in Post-Michael Panama City

    • Thanks John. It was a small effort considering what they’ve been through. But, a friend in Pensacola knew of a church that was collecting goods over there to offer to hurricane victims, East Trinity Church in Panama City. We just drove over independently to bring a small share. They were working so hard to help people. It was incredible to see.

  • Annie and Phillip, so glad you two missed the brunt and are safe. The storm escalated quickly and shows the importance of being prepared. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best! You two certainly made the correct decision to haul PR “just in case” although with this particular storm I’m not sure how much it would have helped had Pensa taken the direct hit.

    The second week of October I drove through Georgia on my way to Tennessee. As far north as Perry there were trees down as well as billboards snapped off and laying on the ground. I’m talking about billboards with 4 to 6 legs telephone pole size! Legs broken and signs destroyed! The trip was a reminder of the power of a hurricane, they simply can’t be taken for granted.

    Thank you and bless you both for your efforts to help the people in the devastated area. They need all the help they can get.

    • Thanks Lyle. It is always humbling to see. We are so grateful we were spared, but it’s heartbreaking to see what happened in Panama City. And I have only seen pictures of Mexico Beach, but they’re tough to look at. Always good to be as prepared as you can, but after that, there’s really nothing you can do. Unfortunately, houses and boats can be re-built, people can’t. All you can do is try to stay safe when it’s coming. Take care Lyle.

  • Annie, Really awful to see but thank for posting, thanks for helping the locals,.
    I commented before the storm about the need from proper full cradles for boats not just jack stands , in this video there is a picture of a boat , now lifted, that had fallen on its jack stands and the were still imbedded in the beautiful boat !. This was the Texas storm last year (house of boats, rockport TX)
    At about 4:30
    Sobering pictures
    Cheers Warren

  • I used to LIVE in Panama City…. Lived there for 13 years before deciding to move back home in the PNW… I lived thru MANY hurricanes there, but never one like this. I recognize many of the landmarks… well I did after I looked at the pictures awhile…. geez! Glad you guys are OK!

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