On Wednesday 10th October, 2018 the 3rd largest Hurricane to make landfall in the United States hit the World\’s Most Beautiful Beaches, Panama City Beach, Florida.
Many homes and businesses suffered significant damage. Florida Governor Rick Scott issued a mandatory evacuation notice on Tuesday 9th, and residents began to evacuate the area in anticipation of what was then, a category 3 Hurricane.
Michael grew to become a Category 4 hurricane, and at it\’s peak, was just 2mph shy of reaching the maximum sustained wind speeds of 177mph, which would have made it a Category 5 hurricane; the largest possible.
After leaving Florida, Michael eventually weakened to a tropical storm but only after passing through parts of Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia too. Leaving a trail of damage in its wake.
As of mid-afternoon Thursday, more than 687,000 homes and businesses in the Southeast had no electricity. Bay County is also under a mandatory boil water notice, cell phone service is limited, and many roads are blocked. Hwys 77, 79 and 231 are restricted to Relief Crew members only.
Much of the Panhandle is also under a dawn to dusk curfew, which further hampers residents and business owners from moving around and assessing the damage.
Local businesses are assessing the damage and beginning the cleanup process where possible.
One local business, the Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort is using their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter platforms to keep guests updated with new developments and field incoming questions.
\”Right now, it is our only line of communication as a business\” says Patrick Hazard, General Manager of the Resort. \”Guests had arrival dates this weekend and beyond are anxious to learn whether they can still stay here as planned, or if they need to make alternative arrangements in the short term\”.
Using their social media platforms as a way to inform guests and provide valuable insight is not new to the Sandpiper Beacon. \”We have never seen social media as a one-way platform to simply sell\” says Hazard. \”We\’ve been fortunate to have an active community of guests who like to share their tips and advice with others on things like which family activities in the Tiki Bar are the best, or which rooms have the best views.\”
The views many people are now interested to see in the wake of Hurricane Michael, are the after effects. People are interested to see how their favorite Hotels, Restaurants and Attractions have weathered the storm.
For some, it\’s just a case of seeing the landmarks they have seen year after year from family vacations to the area. For others, there\’s a more practical desire to know what state things are in due to an upcoming arrival.
All commercial flights arriving and leaving from Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport have been grounded and re-routed until 12th October. Fortunately for passengers who had left vehicles in their long-term parking lot, the airport has reported that they took no damage.
We will continue to update you as news progresses and developments occur, but we are enormously grateful to all those first responders and volunteers who are helping to make our area safe once again.
To those who suffered damage during the Hurricane, we send our thoughts and prayers out to you.