on Thursday, January 23, 2020
High winds, heavy rain, and extreme surges caused massive destruction along the coast, resulting in billions of dollars in damages — trees uprooted, houses splintered, and shops reduced to bare cement slabs. In Florida alone, dozens of people lost their lives. Thousands more lost their homes and livelihoods. Over a year later, there’s still plenty of recovery work to be done, especially in Panama City, Mexico Beach, and the surrounding areas. Sammy Fitkin, project manager for Hauling Away, a Theodore, Alabama based company that specializes in debris removal, grinding services, trucking, and site management, sees this kind of devastation far too regularly.
“We came here straight from a hurricane-recovery project in North Carolina,” says Fitkin. “At first, all we could see were the trees. We could see how the wind blew them one way and then another way. Acres of trees were either twisted or snapped completely to the ground.”
According to Fitkin, the trees were a telltale sign of the destruction to come. “I looked around at all the damage and figured I might as well try to find somewhere to live because I was going to be here for a while. It’s going to take a long time to clean this place up.”
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