LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) — With the flip of some dirt, a new phase of storm recovery is beginning in Lynn Haven.

The first of several new buildings to be built in Lynn Haven, the new city hall complex and police station, has officially broken ground.

Dozens of residents and community leaders came to watch the ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday morning after Hurricane Michael destroyed the old buildings over two and a half years ago.

Residents and community members said it’s a milestone that many in the community won’t forget for some time.

“I’m overwhelmed with joy,” said Lynn Haven Police Chief, Ricky Ramie.

“It’s the next big step in the rebuild of Lynn Haven,” said Mayor Pro-Tem, Dan Russell.

City Manager Vickie Gainer said there were no words to describe the feeling of breaking ground on the city’s future city hall complex and police department, something she said residents have long-deserved.

“Progress is coming and rebuild is on it’s way,” she said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Russell said it’s a huge milestone for the city.

“Michael was a very emotional time period for all of us,” he said. “Seeing a major milestone like this, city hall being rebuilt, it just shows that we’re resilient.”

The new facility is being built to match that resilience of the community.

The city hall and the police department will be built to withstand 200 mile per hour winds and gunfire, also acting as an emergency operations center in case of any future natural disasters.

Chief Ramie said he’s counting down the days until the ribbon-cutting.

“I’m ready for it to be done tomorrow obviously,” he said. “To know that we broke ground today just gives us something very, very great to look forward to.”

Residents like Leon Miller said it’s a heartwarming moment for the city.

“We’ve had some things that happened in Lynn Haven, they’re happening all over the country every day,” Miller said. “But the people in Lynn Haven, we got to come together and make Lynn Haven continue to grow.”

The facility is the first of several to break ground over the next several months, funded through FEMA and insurance payments after the storm. 

It’s expected to be complete in the fall of 2022.