MEXICO BEACH, Fla. — Mexico Beach has come a long way since Hurricane Michael made landfall on Oct. 10, 2018.
- It has been six months since Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle
- Blank slabs, concrete debris piles throughout the community
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- American Red Cross
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But when you drive around town and see what the biggest challenges are - it’s still almost like the storm hit just yesterday.
There are blank concrete slabs where homes once stood on Mexico Beach and debris piles are still being made from demolition crews clearing properties.
But there has been some recovery.
Power has been fully restored, roads are open and some businesses have returned. But a full recovery for the town could be another year away.
At a city council meeting this week in Mexico Beach, officials passed development ordinances and approved small steps in what has been a slow and grueling recovery.
Mexico Beach mayor Al Cathey said the biggest challenge continues to be debris removal, structure demolition and insurance claims.
"Eighty percent of our city was destroyed," Cathey said. "You just don’t clean that up in a few months."
Nor can you rebuild in that short amount of time.
Jaques Sebastin’s beach front home was destroyed by Micheal. He and his wife are now living in a FEMA trailer on the slab where what was left of their home was finally demolished in January.
The Sebastins are hoping to build a new home before next summer — that’s when their FEMA assistance for the trailer runs out.
"Right now I’m working with the drafter on the drawings of the house," Jaques Sebastin said. "Next step after that is start interviewing the contractors. And I think it’s like eight months for construction. So yeah right up against the wall."
For others that were under or uninsured, they may never come back to Mexico Beach. That leaves the community as a small town on the gulf clinging to memories of the past as it looks to rebuild its tomorrow.