BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. (WMBB) — Many Panhandle residents said they didn’t expect Hurricane Michael to damage or destroy their homes. On October 10, 2018, they woke up to destruction and a feeling of helplessness.

Many people didn’t have flood or home insurance.

Blountstown residents like Gina Adams said they realize now just how important insurance is to post-storm recovery.

“It was like a bomb went off,” Adams said. “It was like a bomb went off and so many people are still struggling to recover and now we’re back again.”

Gina Adams has lived in Calhoun County for 20 years.

She said the Blountstown community hasn’t been the same since category 5 Hurricane Michael rocked their world and their homes.

Adams said she got rid of her flood insurance the year before Michael hit. However, she had taken pictures of her property before the storm and it ended up paying off through her property insurance.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said it’s one of the smartest things you can do.

“If you already have this photographic evidence already in hand, it’s going to make your claim cut and dry,” Patronis said.

Patronis said it’s too late for residents who don’t already have flood or property insurance to get covered for Hurricane Ian.

“You can go ahead and start the process but it will not go into force in providing you protection until several months from now.”

However, Patronis said Florida will take care of residents through the state-run ‘Citizens Insurance.’

“We’re sitting on $23 billion in reserves,” Patronis said. “Heaven forbid if we have that type of a catastrophic hurricane event, the state has got the resources to help dig ourselves out of whatever needs we need financially.”

Adams said it’s been hard but she has faith the Blountstown community will get through it together if they need to, just like they did in 2018.

They have experience under their belt.

“We’re much better prepared, much better knowing what’s going to happen,” Adams said.

Although the storm could miss the Blountstown community, many residents like Gina Adams said they are putting out sandbags, dusting off their generators and keeping a close eye on the forecast for evacuation cues.

Patronis added that storms like Hurricane Ian bring the perfect opportunity for predators.

He said to avoid paying cash to anyone offering to help with roof patching, debris removal or other measures like that. Insurance will not cover the cost.

He said if your home is affected by the storm, either call his office at 1-877-MYFLCFO, your insurance agent, or your insurance carrier.