Former Missourian experiences Hurricane Michael's "catastrophic" aftermath
PANAMA CITY, Fla. - A former Missouri woman, now living in Florida's panhandle, said Wednesday she is experiencing the "catastrophic" aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Even though Missouri is hundreds of miles from where the hurricane slammed into Florida's gulf coast one week ago, she said there are ways Missourians can help out those in the panhandle.
"It looks like a war zone," Michaela Hunter said. "It looks like an atomic bomb went off. Nothing is intact on either side of the road," she said.
Hunter moved to Florida from Columbia about three years ago.
"Seeing the devastation didn't really hit me until I was in it," she said.
Hunter said she couldn't believe what she saw after the hurricane passed through.
"You couldn't make out buildings, you couldn't make out anything. It was just piles and piles of rubble," she said. "Cars were picked up and moved to different places. I saw a steal post, that had to be 30 inches wide and over a 100 feet tall, just completely bent over."
Being from Missouri, she said she probably took the hurricane more seriously than the locals did. She said locals didn't seem fazed by the approaching storm, and said "it was just another hurricane."
"He was just so fast, and grew so quickly," she said.
Hunter and her husband, along with her sister, evacuated to Orange Beach, Alabama the day before Michael hit.
She lives west of Panama City in Destin. She said her house didn't experience damage from the winds or flooding, but she said if her house were 50 miles east, it probably wouldn't be standing today.
Hunter owns a Subway store in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and said she delivered 500 sandwiches to American Red Cross volunteers in Panama City.
She said locals are posting "home checks" on Facebook, where they are describing what loved ones look like and sharing home addresses, and asking for volunteers to check their whereabouts. She said people are helping each other out in any way they can.
Hunter said Missourians can help by donating items to help those affected by the aftermath. She said people are asking for basic necessities, like diapers, clothes and pet food.
There are some places to drop off denotations around mid-Missouri for Hurricane Michael survivors.
KOMU 8 spoke to a woman in Columbia who is collecting items to take the panhandle to help with relief efforts.
TNT Surplus in Jefferson City plans to take donations to Florida next week. It's asking for things like batteries, generators and canned food.
Hunter said it will take years for the panhandle to rebuild itself to what it once was.