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Pots, pans, furniture, broken glass everywhere: This is what's left of homes near Mexico Beach  10 Months ago

Source:   USA Today  

When Becky Daniel and her wife Monica Barber pulled up to the remains of their gulf-front home not far from Mexico Beach, all they could do is stare and hold each other.

“This was our heart,” Daniel said of the home, now just rubble. “It’s just gone.”

Her description of her demolished home matches any number of houses turned into broken lumber, shards of glass and pieces of life crumbled by ferocious Hurricane Michael on Wednesday.

A lot of the homes on the stretch from Panama City to Port St. Joe were affected to some degree with the majority from Mexico Beach to St. Jo bearing the brunt of the storm surge and strong winds.

“I was sure it would be here,” Daniel said as she stared at the remains of her home. “We just rebuilt this. We bought it four years ago and completely rebuilt it. We’re contractors.”

Looking at her home, and at the bones of other beach homes that now surrounded her dwelling’s shell, Daniel didn’t know what to do.

“I don’t know how to process this,” she said. “I’m just in shock, it’s all so surreal.”

James and Cynthia Murphy, married and homeowners in what they called the Beacon Hill area of St. Joe, were making a quick first look through the remains of their home.

“We were down here until the last minute,” Cynthia Murphy said. “Then we ran up to a friend's home. The wind pushed us across the parking lot. It was very stressful.”

The couple, who occupied one of four apartments in their building, salvaged some pots and dishes and were looking for car keys. Three of their vehicles, two described as in excellent condition sports cars, laid stacked up behind their building in between a truck and debris.

“We had to go, the water was coming up,” Cynthia Murphy said. “I couldn’t find my cat, she’s probably dead.”

The couple escaped to the friend’s home, behind theirs but much higher in elevation, and stuffed themselves in a corner bedroom while James Murphy held the door closed.

“They evacuated the Gulf side,” his wife said, but the couple was on the opposite side and stayed. “They probably knew we wouldn’t go.”

All along U.S. Route 98 in Florida were the remains of homes strewn everywhere. There were spoons, knives, pots and pans, power tools, shovels, glassware, chairs, and clothing.

In one section of a home that leaned up hundreds of yards from where it once stood on the beach, the kitchen cabinet held dishes, cups, saucers, all lined up and unbroken. 

Most of Mexico Beach was off limits to all but residents and first responders as a door-to-door search was underway by two-person teams with dogs.

While Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputies barred unauthorized entry, lines of emergency vehicles with decals from FEMA, the Florida Highway Patrol, search and rescue units and even a pair of ambulances from Collier County EMT, swiftly flashed by.

In a little corner of Mexico Beach that was accessible, Deanna Pack and her fiancé Brandon Felts  helped get a tree off a friend’s home.

Pack said she and Felts stayed in their home about 6 miles away in the Lake Charles area during the dramatic storm.

“(Brandon) put me in a tile bathroom and put thick padding up and then boarded me in,” she said. "He gave me a hammer and said if he didn’t make it to smash my way out.”

Her fiancé did make it, eventually crawling into the bathroom with her as Michael tore through the area.

“He held me and told me he loved me,” Pack said.  

 

 

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