With peak wind speeds of 155 mph, Hurricane Michael rapidly approached the Florida Panhandle on Monday, October 10, 2018. The powerful hurricane made landfall near Mexico Beach as a Category 5 storm. Of the roughly 2,700 homes in Mexico Beach prior to Hurricane Michael, less than 500 were left after the storm cleared.
In the city of Mexico Beach, 14th and 15th Streets are directly off the coastline at the point where Michael first made landfall, stripping massive new and older homes alike from their foundations, toppling others and heavily damaging most of those that remained. Ferocious winds and a storm surge reaching 9 to 14 feet pushed huge piles of debris hundreds of feet inland from the beach, bulldozing almost everything in their path. In fact, for nearly a mile up these two streets, only one home survived and was rated to be inhabitable with the coveted “green tag” from inspectors. That one home was a Riviera II modular home built by Palm Harbor Homes for Ron and Karen Nichols.
Long-time condo-owners in Mexico Beach, Ron and Karen had lived in their beautiful new Palm Harbor vacation home for just a year when evacuation warnings for Hurricane Michael forced them to head back home to Georgia. Planning for this to become their “forever home,” they had taken every precaution to purchase a strong, well-built Wind Zone III Palm Harbor home and to build the foundation to the local building code’s rigid standards. Now they could only wait, watch and pray.
After the hurricane had passed, the couple anxiously drove back to the coast with a growing sense of dread as signs of the storm’s devastation intensified the closer they got to Mexico Beach. They had seen aerial photos indicating that their home was still standing, but they had no idea what the damage would be to the inside. How could they dare to hope that their home would not be damaged severely like the thousands of homes they were seeing?
Why Were We So Blessed?
“When we came back to Mexico Beach after Hurricane Michael,” Karen Nichols shared, “We truly did not know what to expect on the inside of our home because our neighbor had called and told us that the water line had gotten up to her roof. So when we opened the door, I don’t want to get emotional again, but there was no damage at all. At all. The carpet wasn’t even wet. We had one small broken window over the bathtub. We just said, ‘Thank you, Lord!’ And we wonder why we were so blessed when all of our neighbors lost everything.”
To hear the Nichols’ story in their own words and see the home for yourself, please view the short video below.
A Tradition of Weathering the Storm
sPalm Harbor has relentlessly focused on building a strong, durable home that provides peace of mind for homeowners since we started building in 1976. Since Hurricane Andrew, another Category 5 storm, hit Florida in 1992, whenever extreme forces of nature struck areas with a concentration of our homes, thankful Palm Harbor homeowners have shared with us how their homes weathered the storms. Of course, we always encourage everyone to follow weather-related evacuation warnings and advisories to protect themselves and loved ones. But as a company and as individual associates, nothing gives us more pleasure or pride than hearing these stories from homeowners who return to find their home and their possessions intact.
Thanks to the Nichols and the hundreds of other homeowners who have graciously shared their inspiring “weathering the storm” stories with us over the years.