A couple of days after Florida A&M University’s homecoming festivities, students were taken aback after hearing reports of a hurricane that would affect the Florida Panhandle. The lives of Rattlers from around the Panhandle would change in a matter of days.
Hurricane Michael made landfall at Mexico Beach in Bay County as a Category 4 storm, affecting the Panhandle and other areas inland.
Ashley Foster, a junior pharmaceutical science major from Panama City, was affected by the hurricane. The eye of the storm was approximately 10-15 miles away from Foster’s family home.
Foster’s family decided not to evacuate after experiencing hurricanes prior to Michael.
By the time the storm was upgraded to almost a level 5, it was too late for her family to evacuate.
“The quick thinking of my brother allowed for my family to escape during the storm. My family was able to stay at a neighbor’s house until the neighbor’s house lost their roof,” Foster said. “They all had to enter the storm again to seek shelter at another neighbor’s house until the storm calmed down. There is nothing left of my family home – a tree destroyed it.
“The neighborhood looks like a war zone in a foreign country. Nothing is recognizable, all landmarks are gone,” she added.
Those who were able to evacuate did so prior to Hurricane Michael hitting landfall on Oct. 10.
Alayna Kelly, a senior biology pre-medicine major from Panama City, evacuated with her family on Oct. 9.
“The hurricane was absolutely devastating to my hometown. It doesn’t even look recognizable when I went back to Panama City after the storm,” Kelly said.
It is too soon to predict how long it will take for the Panhandle to recover. It will likely be years before life will be back to normal for those affected.