PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Joseph Payne thought Hurricane Michael would be “quick and easy.”
After the storm, he felt he needed to help other people and biked 4.5 miles with a flashlight from his house in Lynn Haven to work at his job with the Panama City Solid Waste Division.
“[I] almost got clipped a couple times by the wires … I was here at 3 a.m. willing to do anything that I needed to do,” Payne said.
Using chainsaws and front loaders, Payne and crews starting opening up and clearing streets so vehicles could travel. He says he knew his house was destroyed, but his family was safe.
“I went into what I guess I call ‘work mode,’ to where I needed to help anyone and everyone that I possibly could. It helped me really focus in on helping others to turn around and get through what I needed to get through,” Payne said.
He says it’s hard to see a lot of the businesses that have left the city, but many have rebuilt, although that progress is slow. Payne is still living in an RV with five people.
“The city is doing everything that we can, I really love the ways that the guys work together,” Payne said. “I know it looks like it’s taking a long time to get stuff done, but we’re getting there.”