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2018 hurricane season

Many Hurricane Michael victims are still feeling the effects of the storm.  It not only caused physical damage to the area, but has left scars on the hearts and minds of survivors. 

Hurricane Michael was reclassified as a Category 5 hurricane.
NOAA

Hurricane Michael, which devastated a swath of the Florida Panhandle last fall, has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm, only the fourth to make recorded landfall in the United States and the first since 1992.

The announcement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday came as no surprise to those still struggling to recover from the storm's destruction.

"My thought is simply that most of us thought we were dealing with a (Category) 5 anyway," said Al Cathey, mayor of Mexico Beach, which bore the brunt of the storm when it hit.

  April marks six months after Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc in the Florida panhandle and half a year later, Panama City and Mexico Beach are still in shambles.  On the six-month anniversary of the storm, more than 70 organizations came together to host a "Pray for Bay" event meant to unify the community and provide outreach. 

Many 'Still Hurting' Nearly 5 Months After Hurricane Michael

Mar 3, 2019
Governor's Press Office

Paulina "Bela" Sebastiao would give almost anything to be able to do a load of laundry without having to drive miles from her Mexico Beach home. Anthony Campbell would appreciate having a gas station closer than an hour away from his house in Parker. And Patrick Muth just hopes it doesn't rain when it's time to go to work: His "office" in Panama City consists of a desk surrounded by rubble under an open sky.

Prescribed Burns Could Help Cleanup Hurricane Debris

Mar 2, 2019

The state is looking to prescribed fires to clean up the massive amount of timber left after Hurricane Michael. Tall Timbers’ Wildland fire scientist, Kevin Hiers , says salvaging is not going to be a viable option for most landowners in North Florida.

After Hurricane Irma slammed the Florida Keys in September of 2017, lots of volunteers came to help with clean up. Almost a year and a half later, there's still work to do repairing homes, and volunteers who want to help.

The challenge has been finding them a place to stay.

More than three months after Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle, communities now are struggling with the storm's financial aftermath. In Mexico Beach, where Michael's 155 mile-per-hour winds flattened more than three-quarters of the homes, just removing the debris threatens to bankrupt the city.

On Highway 98, the beach road, nearly every house on the ocean side is gone. Collapsed home sites and piles of debris wait to be bulldozed away.

NOAA.gov

When lawmakers return to the Capitol in January to prepare for the 2019 legislative session, four Senate committees will delve into the impacts of Hurricane Michael, according to a Senate calendar.

A hospital on Florida's Panhandle says it will lay off 800 employees — nearly half its staff — because it suffered such serious damage from Hurricane Michael.

Shortly before noon on October 10, Lt. Col. Sean Cross and Maj. Dave Gentile, pilots with the U.S. Air Force Reserve, turned the nose of their WC-130J “Hurricane Hunter” toward the core of Hurricane Michael as it bore down on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Season Not Over Yet

Nov 12, 2018

The Atlantic Hurricane Season may not be done just yet. A new tropical or subtropical storm is likely to form north of Puerto Rico this week. It could then approach the southeastern Bahamas in five to seven days.

Panhandle schools hit hard by Hurricane Michael are re-opening, and many students are experiencing a “new normal” as they return. Some districts are having to get creative to get all students in the classroom.

Hurricane Michael left a devastated Panhandle to pick up the pieces. Industries like timber and agriculture are struggling to rebuild. And another community is asking for help: beekeepers.

Electric Bills Suspended For Hurricane Victims

Oct 31, 2018

State regulators moved quickly Tuesday to approve the suspension of monthly electric bills for customers of two utilities in areas hit hard by Hurricane Michael. 

Tourism Marketing Backed After Hurricane, Red Tide

Oct 31, 2018

The state’s tourism-marketing arm wants to send a message to potential visitors: Hurricane damage and fish-killing red tide don’t cover all of the Sunshine State.

Two U.S. senators and three congressmen are asking federal officials to bring recreational vehicles and mobile homes to the Florida Panhandle to help residents who lost their homes to Hurricane Michael.

In Florida, schools have yet to reopen in an area heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael, and the biggest roadblocks have been securing housing and child care for teachers and staff. So the Bay District Schools are opening child-care sites as classes resume early next month.

How A 2-star Army General Took Charge Of A Broken City

Oct 29, 2018

Mark McQueen's sand-colored combat boots have walked the ground during many disasters.

Afghanistan.

Iraq.

Florida's Panama City.

Electric utility providers in the Florida Panhandle say they're hoping to have nearly all power restored to customers whose homes are equipped to receive it by early November. That's roughly a month after the area was hit by Hurricane Michael.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wants wireless networks to be better prepared for disasters. Patronis is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to enact new regulations.

Already sick with strep throat and asthma, Aleeah Racette got sicker when she cleaned out a soggy, moldy home after Hurricane Michael, so she sought help at the hospital where she began life. She was stunned by what she saw there.

With houses flattened in Mexico Beach from the storm surge and 155 mph winds of Hurricane Michael, and cellphone towers, power lines and roads destroyed, recovery and rebuilding will be a long slow process.

Missing relatives and worries that looters are just outside the door. Dirty clothes. Hours-long lines for gasoline, insurance adjusters, food and water. No power, no air conditioning, no schools, no information and little real improvement in sight.

Daily life is a series of fears and frustrations, both large and small, for thousands of people living on the edge, more than a week after Hurricane Michael flattened thousands of square miles in the hurricane zone of the Florida Panhandle.

Healthy Kids Premiums Waived In 12 Counties

Oct 19, 2018

The Florida Healthy Kids Corp. Board of Directors on Thursday approved a plan to waive children’s health-insurance premiums for three months in counties that sustained heavy damage in Hurricane Michael. 

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is calling out the Florida Legislature for passing a 2017 bill he says allows builders to strip international building standards from Florida codes.

Healthy Kids Could Waive Premiums In Hard-hit Areas

Oct 18, 2018

The Florida Healthy Kids Corp. Board of Directors is expected Thursday to consider waiving children’s health-insurance premiums for three months in a dozen counties slammed last week by Hurricane Michael.

Powerless Victims Of Hurricane Michael Now Suffer Looting

Oct 17, 2018
NOAA

Armed looters are targeting homes and businesses that remain without electricity after being ravaged by Hurricane Michael a week ago.

Updated at 8:23 p.m. ET

Florida residents still trying to piece together their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael are missing one much needed tool: reliable cellphone service.

Amid reports of ongoing and widespread outages, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, is calling for an investigation of the problem. He is also calling for wireless carriers to waive October bills of Florida customers in areas hit by the hurricane.

Panhandle Suffers Massive Crop Damage

Oct 17, 2018

Hurricane Michael has taken a toll on Florida’s agriculture industry. Still recovering from Hurricane Irma, crop growers in the panhandle will need to tread on to recover from the economic impact.

Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

After Hurricane Michael slammed through the Florida panhandle and into Georgia last week, President Trump has surveyed damage and met with officials about recovery efforts.

At a briefing alongside Florida Gov. Rick Scott at Eglin Air Force Base, Trump praised the work of emergency responders and law enforcement.

"The job they've done in Florida has been incredible," he said, and described Scott as a leader who "steps up in the biggest emergencies, the biggest problems, and he gets it done."

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