PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Jeannie and Ron Farris remember October 10 all too well.
“You could just see the wall just walk into the neighborhood,” Jeannie said. “It was crazy. You could just see this white wall of wind and rain as it just kind of marched through the neighborhood.”
Jeannie is a registered nurse at Gulf Coast Medical Center. Her husband is a Bay County building inspector and a tier one responder for the Emergency Operations Center. Both of their jobs kept them in the panhandle to ride out the storm.
“We weren’t in a flood zone. And so we weren’t too concerned. You know, we had our supplies and our water and everything,” Jeannie said. “We thought we knew what we were doing. We thought we were prepared. But there’s no way you can prepare for what happened to us and to our community.”
Jeannie was at home with her 15-year-old daughter when the storm picked up. Meanwhile, Ron was at work.
<Ron Farris, Husband, Dad and inspector at Bay County Building Department>
“I had no idea how bad the hurricane was because we weren’t in the big room,” Ron said. “And I called my wife and was talking to her. And she said, I think the big tree’s fixing to, and the phone cut off.”
Ron said he was worried for his family and immediately tried to drive home to them.
“As soon as they opened the doors for us to go outside, I took off to try and get to my family,” he said. “And it took me about five and a half hours to get to Baldwin road from the EOC, and we couldn’t get any further. The roads were blocked. So I had to turn around and come back.”
The tree did fall on the house. Jeannie and her daughter were not injured, but the house was demolished.
“Seeing the house, driving up to the house, was just an absolute shock,” Ron said. “Your worst thoughts, you know, come to mind.”
One year has passed since then, but the family is still working to recover.
“Michael was supposed to be a two, maybe three. And we woke up that morning and it was a four and ended up being a five.,” Jeannie said. “There’s no way you can prepare for that except to run, and we had nowhere to run.”