Monday, October 29, 2018

Weeks after Hurricane Michael struck, some rural residents of the Florida Panhandle still need help

Though utilities have been restored in Panama City and other metro areas in the Florida panhandle, some rural residents say they still lack power, sewer and water services more than two weeks after Hurricane Michael ravaged the Gulf Coast, Tamara Lush reports for The Associated Press.

About 180,000 people live in Bay County, where Panama City is located, and 14 percent of them live in poverty. Mark Ward, 49, is one. A generator powers his mobile home, he stores food in coolers, and grills out. "It’s a struggle. You feel frustrated because our local government seems to care more about the tourism industry than the hard-working people," he told Lush. "You go off some of these dirt roads that are still unpaved, these houses are crushed. These people have no resources."

The storm did more than cut off power; it destroyed many homes, especially flimsily built mobile homes. And residents who use insulin or other medications that must be refrigerated are in dire straits if they don't have access to a cooler or generator, Lush reports. Though the Red Cross has brought some supplies, neighbors have been helping each other as much as they can, offering space to sleep, water, showers, and food.

Residents who live in poverty will have a hard time recovering from the disaster: the moisture and wreckage left by the storm are likely to spur the growth of mold, and many residents don't have property insurance to help rebuild damaged or destroyed homes.

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