Hurricane victims in northern Florida are raising the alarm that they continue to face severely difficult conditions one year after Hurricane Michael hit land. The Category 5 storm devastated rural communities and small towns throughout the Florida Panhandle as well as hitting some larger cities, such as Panama City and Port St. Joe. Even though the hurricane hit land in October 2018, residents continue to live in hotel rooms, trailers and tents as of fall 2019. Many buildings have not yet been repaired, and fallen trees continue to dominate the landscape in some places. Thousands of people have left the heavily impacted communities, especially due to the economic damage caused by the storm.
Agricultural crops like peanuts, timber and cotton were devastated by hurricane damage. In addition, homeowners continue to struggle with insurance companies that are denying or delaying payouts on their hurricane insurance claims. Due to the shortage of housing, affordable homes are few and far between, driving residents away from the area and leading to an even deeper economic crisis. In addition, public buildings also continue to show signs of devastation from the storm. Many children are attending school in trailers and other temporary buildings due to hurricane damage to their original school buildings.
Nevertheless, the hurricane received less attention than some other devastating storms, both from the media and from government officials and relief agencies. Some people fear that because rural communities and small towns bore the brunt of the impact, their struggles are being ignored or forgotten, especially as aid bills have seen delays in approval.
Many homeowners pay their premiums for years only to face ongoing delays when they need to file homeowners’ insurance claims. An insurance law attorney may be able to help homeowners pursue the compensation they need to repair their damaged houses.