LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) – When Hurricane Michael struck Lynn Haven last October, the city of nearly 21,000 people looked to Mayor Margo Anderson for leadership.
“I don’t think people realize the amount of devastation and even those people who stayed and who had prepared with water and food and the things that they would need, their entire houses were destroyed. So even those supplies that they had were gone,” she said.
It was an emotional ride for Mayor Anderson as she weathered the storm in the Police Annex building in Lynn Haven with her husband, first responders and other members of the police department.
But she didn’t wear her heart on her sleeves. Instead, she rolled them up and got to work.
“I had made this vow that I would not cry ever because the fact is everybody knows a woman in a head of government position to cry would have just been disastrous because it would have looked weak, and so I was pretty stoic,” she said.
Community members of Jackson, Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine sent seven semi-trucks full of supplies over the first three to four days after the storm. And Anderson helped distribute the supplies and hot meals to about 10,000 people.
“It was a time when everyone was, you know, really helping each other and those who couldn’t help themselves, some for the very first time in their lives,” she said. “It was a very unique experience for them, you know, everyone’s in the same boat. We’re going to help each other and we’re going to get through this and that’s how we did it.”
Mayor Anderson has become a vocal advocate for mental health since the storm.
“I think that depression and anxiety and anger all those things are cycles that people go through after something like this. And I would encourage anyone not to be ashamed not to be afraid to take those fears, see a counselor, see a therapist, go and talk to your pastor, your priest and find someone to pour out your heart to. And I think that’s the key to moving on,” she said. “But as far as city recovering, I think that Lynn Haven is is really on a bright path right now.”