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October 15th – 5 Days after “D-Day” – Search and Rescue ongoing – people still unaccounted for. Communications remain weak, so many across the country have still not heard from loved ones. Makeshift studios are up for local Panama City stations WMBB and WJHG, reporting where to access services, updating the weather, how to contact insurance companies, hour by hour updates.
Cape San Blas, a picturesque barrier island just off Mexico Beach is now three islands:
Port St. Joe, FL – is a small port town just down from leveled Mexico Beach. Back in the day, it was the hub where timber and turpentine industries pulsed. My husband’s cousin and family in Port St. Joe evacuated to Alabama. His wife’s childhood church came together and supplied a flatbed truck carrying a generator, tarps, chainsaw, food, water, everything they needed, as they wanted to return to secure home. They returned to a hole in the roof but no water damage. Problem: NO law enforcement in Port St. Joe. Bands of looters are going house to house. Next door neighbor was at home when three men walked in. Law enforcement needed.
Wewahitchka, FL in Gulf County – Services are slow to this area. Not waiting for government, an email from our local Episcopal church, Christ The King in Santa Rosa Beach, has partnered with area churches to address this need. They request working flashlights, tarps, and FOOD. So far they have only received MRE’s in Wewa. Church’s plan is to cook mass meals, gather supplies and transport this week. Asking for Publix and Walmart Gift Cards to buy food and volunteers to cook this Wednesday. Hundreds of area churches are mobilized providing food and ministering to the needs of their hard-hit neighbors. It is an amazing thing to witness.
Panama City, FL – We went to Panama City Beach Sunday to help tarp a neighbor’s roof and secure fencing at my in-laws. The massive oaks toppled over like toothpicks were jaw-dropping. Even a large piece of lawn was lifted and left in a hump! My sister in law who is a mobile nurse said most of the nursing staff in Panama City have lost their homes, and their office, but they are determined to make contact with their patients and are out searching. In fact, many who have lost everything are out working. She made it to 15th St. and had to turn around, still not able to get into the hard-hit towns, but they are working on it. Gulf Power is hoping to get power restored in Panama City by Oct. 24th, but with few homes or businesses operational, it will be a limited blessing. Some areas may not get power for months, local officials are being told. Again, power grids gone. Entire towns under rubble. No cell phones or cable at this time.
Tyndall Air Force Base, FL – No housing for their soldiers and families. Hangers in rubble – Massive cleanup in progress.
I ran into CVS in West Panama City Beach and an older man with a shirt that read Louisiana Fire & Rescue was wolfing down a cold drink and chips in the parking lot. I handed him a protein bar from my purse and thanked him for coming while choking back tears. We passed many cars by the roadside out of gas – a pickup from Minnesota filled with water and a generator headed into the war zone, people with gas cans going from Walton County to Panama City, taking fuel to first responders and news trucks. Gas runs out as soon as it gets refilled.
Many, many churches of all faiths are in place cooking, providing essentials like baby formula, diapers, tarps, and moral support. There seems to be a calm in the midst of the wreckage, smiles, greetings, communities and help pouring in from across the country, working with local and federal government, but people not dependent or waiting solely on government.
Georgia also suffered from major destruction of crops totaling over a billion dollars from this hurricane:
How can you help?
Please please Donate:
Mercy Chefs from Texas, Carolinas, and other states are mobilized, providing 12-18,000 meals per day are here. Non-profit. Asking for help from area chefs.
The American Red Cross – They are still in the Carolinas helping with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and have moved operations to The Panhandle. Non-profit
The Salvation Army – They are on the scene in the Florida Panhandle and need your help. Non-profit
Don’t forget the animals: Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport, FL in Walton County, a non-profit no-kill animal facility quickly evacuated and fostered out over 300 animals, including horses and pigs, prior to the storm:
If you would like to donate to this large, all-volunteer animal shelter, here is the info:
Governor Rick Scott, local officials, and news people have done an outstanding job.
Final thoughts: The Florida Panhandle is a conservative part of the state, wearing the label “The Bible Belt” with pride. A fleeting thought crossed my mind – how will they vote, as I received my paper ballot in the mail yesterday for the mid-terms? When there are no schools, no hospitals, no facilities, it strikes me as a very low priority, as important as the upcoming election is.
What I am certain is no one cares a hill of beans about what Melania is wearing (she and President Trump were here in Lynn Haven), no one cares about Alex Baldwin’s new show, or about Elizabeth Warren’s DNA, or the rants by Antifa in Portland, or the witches of Brooklyn trying to conjur a hex on Justice Kavanaugh. In fact, so many headlines look incredibly foolish to me right now. What I do know without a shadow of a doubt is that God’s mercy is visibly pouring out in the midst of mayhem. There is no amount of hate, or hex, or horrible disaster that can break the will of His people or the American spirit.Published in