My love letter to Panama City Florida…continued


June 10, 2019

My love letter to Panama City Florida

8 months after Hurricane Michael

We are 8 months into the 4 years…

Years that it will take for my beloved home ocean to return to normalcy…at least that is what I heard when I was there last week. Hopefully, it will take less time. My information is based on what I have heard and/or read, so if my information is inaccurate, I mean no ill will or harm.

My hope for Bay County is that she comes back stronger and more successful than ever before.

Here’s an update on what’s going on:

Many of the restaurants are still closed because they are heavily damaged or completely destroyed. 

Most of the Panama City Mall is still closed. Dillard’s still smells like mold and is only open in part of their original floor plan area.

The Panama City Mall is closing and not going to be rebuilt as a mall.  This news made me cry…

Medical professionals are still sharing offices with others…Literally putting the “hospital” in Southern Hospitality!

Tyndall Air Force Base is getting a big dose of money from the government to build it up, better than before the storm.  A real piece of good news for Bay County!

Some grocery stores, banks and drug stores are still closed or operating out of tents.

Because of the lack of leaves and branches on trees, the overall heat index has increased since this same time last year.  No shade, no break from the heat.  When it hasn’t rained in a few days, everything is dusty since the deforestation occurred with Hurricane Michael.

So many people still have not fixed their homes, replaced their damaged vehicles and have found jobs. So many people did not have insurance to cover the damages to their homes, property and vehicles. And for those of us who were insured, many of us are still trying to get the insurance companies to give us enough money to repair our homes.  Some of us have had to hire independent claims adjusters and lawyers to get the insurance companies off of their checkbooks. Every day that insurance companies do not pay out claims, they make more money…grrrr!

The federal government debris removal trucks have stopped running.

Tourist season has officially began on the beach. Not sure if any of that revenue will make it over the bridge into Panama City proper.

People are still living in campers that parked in front of their destroyed homes. Traffic is still filled with trucks with out of state license plates and with the words “roofing/tree removal/mold remediation/drywall/plumbing” and wait lists for roof repairs, etc., are long, no matter who you call.

Schools and churches are still sharing buildings.  One high school prom was set up in a park. 

It is my opinion that many of the fine people of Bay County Florida are still experiencing Hurricane Michael, every day.

8 months later and Panama City and the surrounding areas like Mexico Beach that were devastated from Hurricane Michael are still working to rebuild their lives, communities and legacies.

There seems to be less and less media about Hurricane Michael, even now that it has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm.

In case you didn’t know, here is the description from the Saffir-Simpson scale:

Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

8 months and counting. This makes me sad and angry at the same time.

This is still a crisis.

Please feel free to share my love letter in hopes of bringing attention to my home ocean…mermaid speak for where my heart resides.

My Florida heart is still broken. 


Tamara Phipps

Former Bay County Resident

Current Bay County Property Owner and Tax Payer

Student of Gulf Coast Community College

Fan of Florida State Seminoles

Mermaid from the Gulf of Mexico

Lover of Bay County Florida…now and forever.