After Hurricane Michael tore through the panhandle, the city of Mexico Beach put a 90-day ban on building in the city. April Salter, a spokesperson for the city, said it’s time they need to establish new codes and be better equipped if this were to ever happen again.
Mexico beach is a ghost town, now almost three months since the storm. Just a handful of homes are still standing and people won’t see any homes being rebuilt. City officials were already routinely reviewing the city’s comprehensive plan, including changing building codes and other regulations, months before Michael tore through.
“Then when the storm hit, it became even more important that we take another look at it,” Salter said. Many of Mexico Beach’s homes were built between 1950 and 1970. After Michael hit, the city council voted on a 90-day moratorium banning any immediate rebuilding. “It gave the city the chance to take a look at that before people began to rebuild so they weren’t rebuilding structures that weren’t going to be resilient enough, given what we know know about this storm and the potential for any future storms,” Salter said. Repairs like putting on a new roof are allowed.
New building codes sometimes take more out of homeowners wallets. “Those owners that have been here 50 years that will have to rebuild to standards, which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, however a lot of these people are on fixed incomes,” resident Alex Hogan said.
“Fortunately most insurance coverages provide for the cost of compliance with new codes and regulations so that’s something people should be looking at,” Salter said.
Hogan said in the long term, a new comprehensive plan is a good idea. “The next time, if it does happen, praise the Lord it doesn’t, we’ll be better built.”
The council expects to have a more concrete plan in a few weeks and the moratorium will be lifted on February 8th