ORLANDO, Fla. — A year after Hurricane Michael , the Florida county hardest hit by the Category 5 storm is still in crisis: Thousands in Bay County are homeless, medical care and housing are at a premium, domestic violence has become a problem and severely diminished mental health services are overwhelmed with backlogs.
Michael, among the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States, barreled onto the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10, 2018, with 160 mph (257 kph) winds, ripping homes from their foundations, flattening others and utterly devastating Tyndall Air Force Base, home to 11,000 airmen. It left 22,000 of Bay County’s then-180,000 residents homeless and resulted in total insured losses of almost $7 billion.
This summer, county officials unveiled a nearly 300-page blueprint to rebuild. Among their ideas is to use shipping containers and 3-D technology to build new houses and to offer signing bonuses for doctors to replace those who fled when their offices and equipment were destroyed.