More than three months after Hurricane Michael slammed into Florida’s panhandle, communities now are struggling with the storm’s financial aftermath. In Mexico Beach, where Michael’s 155 mile-per-hour winds flattened more than three-quarters of the homes, just removing the debris threatens to bankrupt the city.
On Highway 98, the beach road, nearly every house on the ocean side is gone. Collapsed home sites and piles of debris wait to be bulldozed away.
Officials say debris removal alone is likely to cost more than $25 million, more than ten times the town’s annual budget. “We’re past the needing water and tarps,” says Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey, “But now we’re at where the rubber hits the road.”