Hurricane Michael victims seek housing solution

Special Reports

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — When things get hard Mary Jo Gray talks to God and then she talks to her dog, Lulu.

“We are very fortunate,” Gray said. “A lot of people have troubles but Lulu and I had a talk and I’ve decided instead of a tragedy we’re treating this as an adventure. And we’re doing good.”

Gray and Lulu are among the nearly 450 families who are living in FEMA provided housing. After Hurricane Michael FEMA provided trailers to more than 900 families who could not get back into their homes or find a place to rent.

Gray says FEMA did a good job and helped the victims. She lives in a trailer in one of the two FEMA locations in Panama City. One of them is on U.S. 98 and Martin Luther King Boulevard and the other is at the Bay County Fairgrounds.

“And I’ve done a lot of praying,” Gray said. “That man upstairs has really helped me too.”

FEMA officials said this week that they are working one on one with the remaining families to help them find a place to live but time is running out. Residents can stay in their units until April but if they stay longer they will have to pay rent. FEMA officials said the cost of rent will vary depending on the size of the unit and other factors.

“I’m going to try my hardest to get out of here before the (rent) deadline for sure,” said resident Robert Boyers. “I can’t afford to stay here anytime after that.”

Charles Macon is another resident who lost everything in the storm and is trying to find a new place to live but his budget will only stretch so far.

“Just maybe understand it can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere man. You can’t control mother nature,” Macon said.

Meanwhile, Gray and lulu are patiently waiting for the St. Andrews Towers to be rebuilt. That’s where she called home before the storm. She won’t leave town. Her daughter and grandbabies live nearby.

“You tighten up,” she said. “There is nothing better than family.”

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