You may have seen him while driving around Panama City. He’s the man holding signs with positive messages.
News 13 met Decaris Hunter in July of this year while he was spreading his message of positivity on the corner of 15 Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. He’s always been positive and his upbeat attitude continues post-hurricane Michael but what many do not know is that he was also impacted greatly by the storm.
With a huge smile on his face, Decaris Hunter takes on busy intersections to spread his message of staying positive and spreading the love.
“I go out there everyday just trying to give people that hope, trying to people that little bit of normalcy,” said Panama City Resident, Decaris Hunter.
He’s known as Mr. Positivity and he’s been holding signs and advertising his goa of a “no hate” society since the summer.
Before, his message was to stop the division and hate. However, he now has a new purpose. “After the hurricane now, it’s just about us trying to man together, us trying to heal together,” said Hunter.
Just like many others in Bay County, he was also impacted by Hurricane Michael. “It was just heartbreaking to see our city like that. It just looked so unrecognizable,” said Hunter.
Decaris worked the night of the storm, a decision he says, saved his life. He was shocked by the damage he came home to.
“From the front, it looked good. I was thinking to myself like oh yes, we’ve got it. But then I opened the door and walked in and I saw all the water come out the door… I just looked and saw a tree in our front living room and that’s really what broke me. It was hard to see us lose everything like that,” he said.
The tree that fell into his home was right above his bedroom. Now what remains is a gaping hole in his bedroom ceiling. He hasn’t stayed in his home since the storm and it has been deemed unlivable by the necessary officials.
The home not only suffered heavy structural damage, but also quite a bit of water damage that has led to mold in the home.
Saturday was his first time back to his house in a week. While at his home for the interview, he had discovered someone had looted his washer, dryer, TV’s, stove and refrigerator. Hunter stood there in disbelief that someone would steal such large appliances without anyone in the neighborhood seeing them. Through the discovery, he stayed positive and stated that they are just items that can be replaced, lives however, cannot be replaced and he’s thankful to still be alive after the storm.
Despite his hardships, he’s looking at the bright side. “Though I lost everything I had, I’m not giving up. So even though you may have lost everything that you had. I don’t want you to give up. The Panama City we had is long gone now, it’s gone. A lot of people are trying to figure out what this is,” Hunter said.
Decaris has a new motto. The motto is “it’s the new Panama City.”
He goes on to say that it’s time to embrace this new Panama City, and that people need to stay positive and rebuild it better than before.
“Everyday is another chance that we can have another opportunity to make this better, but it starts with us,” he said.