Mexico Beach (Ground Zero) Before Hurricane Michael
(Those are homes and business, packed this tightly for about 7 miles)
I promised one last update on Hurricane Michael’s devastating path through the Florida panhandle, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Some of you across the Atlantic felt Michael’s last, dying winds, too, and hopefully survived with no serious damage. But today, I want to share a few pictures of exactly what we are dealing with here in Florida, because I think images explain the situation far better than words do. Please send your thoughts and prayers to these people who have lost everything, including in some cases, their lives.
After Michael (Shot is lined up as a continuation of the left image)
This is what the area looks like now. The rectangles on the ground everywhere you look are all that’s left of hundreds of homes. Entire neighborhoods gone. In most cases, there isn’t anything left to sort through for belongings. It’s all been blown (or washed) blocks and blocks away! For as far as you can see.
Most homes are gone completely. Here’s an entire block that has been leveled.
But even the homes that are still somewhat in place will likely be condemned. (These pictured here were occupied dwellings, that have been blown off their pilings & had the siding ripped off, as well.
This larger house was lifted off the foundations and left atilt.
In other cases, while neighboring house sustained serious damage to roofs and walls, the house in the middle was lifted right off its pilings altogether and deposited blocks away!
Walls were torn off of some homes, and INTERIOR drywall completely torn out.
The debris piled up in front of the remains of this house probably came from blocks away, carried on the 10+ feet of storm surge.
One of the reasons it’s so difficult to get utility trucks into the area. They estimate that most of these homes will be without power or drinking water for weeks, maybe a month or longer, due to difficulty of access. Those who evacuated are being asked to stay away until it’s safer to return.
This was a block of businesses and shops. Gone. You can see the remains of the pottery shop in the foregound. These were permanent buildings, often concrete block construction. Not street fair tents or the like. The livelihood of all these business owners is pretty much gone.
I dont’ know about you, but I wouldn’t drive down a road like this. Not even on the far side. Yet many first responders have had to brave such conditions in order to help where they can. TEN area hospitals have had to relocate all their patients, due to loss of power and water!
These folks are probably trying to figure out where their house ended up, and if there is anything at all left of their personal belongings. I saw one man being interviewed who said he was able to reach his house, but found it “severely damaged and filled with furniture that wasn’t his!” Imagine.
I want to end with this shot (though I have dozens more) of two men who are happy to see each other still alive! The death toll has so far been much lower than feared, but that’s no consolation to anyone who lost a family member in this storm. And one more reason to try to get the message across: If they tell you to get out, GET OUT! It isn’t worth the risk of ending up under a pile of debris that used to be your home. GO.
I have always said I would never, ever build a house on a beach or a barrier island. I personally think the risk is far too high. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel immensely saddened for those who made a different choice, and have now paid a huge price for it. And truthfully, storms can come inland to wreak havoc, too, as this one did going through the middle of Georgia and northward.
My final thoughts are these. Be grateful for every day you are given. Life is a gift. Use it fully, but wisely. Enjoy the moment, but don’t be foolish. Taking selfies on the edge of a cliff is foolish. Dangling your child over the edge of the alligator enclosure is downright criminally dumb. And refusing to evacuate an area targeted by a hurricane when you’ve been BEGGED to go is just plain stupid. Don’t do any of these things! You have a life to live, things to do, people to love and be loved by. There are already dangers out there you have no control over. Don’t add to them unnecessarily.
Just my thoughts, for what they’re worth.
To you people who live in areas where hurricanes are not a problem, YAY! Count your blessings. And to ALL of you, stay safe, please! And count YOUR blessings, too. Remember to send your thoughts and prayers to the people impacted by Hurricane Michael. Many of them will be months and months trying to put their lives back together again. Thanks!