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Citizens In Work Mode After Hurricane Michael Hits Panama City

Even with a clear path out of town, some residents decided to stay and wait for the electricity and water to return.

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Johnny Gonzalez saws through a downed tree in Panama City, Fla., some of the destruction left by Hurricane Michael.. VOA

Armed with a chain saw, Panama City resident Johnny Gonzalez was sawing through as many fallen trees as it takes to clear roadways and driveways.

Hurricane Michael left a path of destruction, downing trees and power lines. In the coastal town of Panama City, near where the hurricane made landfall, some residents were still trapped in their homes, surrounded by fallen trees.

Gonzalez knows the feeling of helplessness. He went to a church to seek shelter from the hurricane and thought it was safe, until the hurricane blew the roof off. He is just glad his children are safe.

‘By the grace of God’

“By the grace of God, we made it out of there somehow. I don’t know how we got lucky; they said we had tornadoes hit us. With the winds we couldn’t even tell. I remember hearing a whistling sound like a train was coming, and the roof was just sucked up from the church we were in,” Gonzalez said.

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Fallen trees on homes are a common sight in Panama City, Fla., as part of the path of destruction left by Hurricane Michael.

He made it home with his family, but the situation was not good. He called his boss, Lee Nettles, for help. Nettles, the manager of a beach resort community about 80 miles away, heard Gonzalez’s voicemail.

“We got a call from him. Just a voicemail. All we heard is that ‘we were trapped and we need water. Help!’ Amanda said, ‘I’m going to get him,’ and I said, ‘OK, I’m going with you.’ And we found him and his wife and his two kids,” Nettles said.

Nettles’ co-worker is Amanda Miles, director of security at the beach resort. Gonzalez is the assistant director.

“When I needed help they come and rescued me. They sacrificed their life for me and now I’m going to sacrifice mine for my town people,” Gonzalez said.

Helping their community

The team of three decided to hit the road and offer help to others in the community who did not evacuate. In many parts of town, there is no power or water. Debris, destroyed buildings, downed trees and power lines were everywhere.

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Fallen trees on homes are a common sight in Panama City, Fla., as part of the path of destruction left by Hurricane Michael. VOA

“I don’t care how strong you are, this is tough to witness. Total destruction,” Nettles said.

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The team of three first started by going from street to street offering water, “and then on the way, Amanda said, ‘Let’s pick up a chain saw,’ so what the heck, I’ve never used a chain saw until today,” Nettles said.

Even with a clear path out of town, some residents decided to stay and wait for the electricity and water to return. It may be weeks if not months before things get back to normal again, (VOA)

Next Story

Starting With The 2024 Hurricane Season, U.S. Meteorologists Replaces Hurricane Names Florence, Michael

The United Nations' World Meteorological Organization maintains six lists with 21 names each that are organized alphabetically and alternate between male and female names.

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A hog farm is inundated with floodwaters from Hurricane Florence near Trenton, North Carolina, Sept. 16, 2018. VOA

Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which caused widespread death and destruction in the United States last year, have earned the dubious distinction of having their names retired.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that the two names will be replaced with Francine and Milton, starting with the 2024 hurricane season.

Damage caused by Hurricane Michael is seen in Mexico Beach, Florida, U.S., October 16, 2018.
Damage caused by Hurricane Michael is seen in Mexico Beach, Florida, U.S., October 16, 2018. VOA

The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization maintains six lists with 21 names each that are organized alphabetically and alternate between male and female names.

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Names are retired when meteorologists determine that a hurricane has been so destructive that reusing its name would be insensitive. Pixabay

Each list is used once every six years. The current group goes from 2018 to 2023, with the cycle restarting in 2024.

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Names are retired when meteorologists determine that a hurricane has been so destructive that reusing its name would be insensitive.

The first hurricane name to be retired was Carol, in 1954. So far, 88 names have been dropped from the list. (VOA)