Families are still rebuilding from Hurricane Michael’s destruction

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BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — It is no secret many are still rebuilding from Hurricane Michael, but some have not been able to do so yet.

Two years later, many houses throughout the panhandle look untouched or abandoned.

“It’s down to the studs,” said Panama City resident Brad Barnes.

Like many, Barnes and his family have not slept inside their Panama City home since they evacuated. 

“I would have imagined we would have been back in our house in the first 14 months,” Barnes said.

Twenty-four months later, Barnes is still living in a rental property, paying insurance on his house as well as a mortgage, all while in a court battle with his insurance company.

“Plan is to wait on insurance money to come in because we don’t want to start a project and not be able to finish it,” Barnes said.

Terri Braa also had to take legal action with her insurance company.

She is now onto her third contractor and finally seeing progress on her house.

“It’s been such a struggle, you know, finding it this way and cleaning it out and taking down walls. Throwing piles and piles of a life of memories out in the road,” Braa said.

While she rebuilds, she lives in this RV with her daughter and several animals she has rescued. She anticipates moving back into her home in three weeks.

“I need the electrical finished,” Braa said. “The whole house had to be rewired when the roof ripped off.

It is just one of many things left to be done.

But her list of repairs is dwindling and she is looking forward to a new beginning.

“A lot of things have happened here in this house since I bought it,” Braa said. “A lot. I lost my son, cancer, divorce. A lot of things have happened. And the hurricane, of course. I want this house to feel like a totally new place.”

Braa and Barnes advise anyone else waiting on the insurance money and trying to repair their house, or even try to get money for it from insurance, to maybe consider getting a lawyer to help further them along the process.  

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