Mexico Beach residents reflect on Hurricane Michael as Ian strikes southwest Florida

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 8:08 PM CDT
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MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Mexico Beach residents can relate to dealing with the aftermath of a destructive storm as Hurricane Ian batters the Florida Peninsula.

“We’re thinking of those folks where it’s going now, just the anxiety of a storm coming,” Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey said. “They haven’t had a storm like that in a number of years in that area. So, our heart goes out to them.”

Mayor Cathey remembers Hurricane Michael like it was yesterday.

“On 10/11, the morning of 10/11 of ‘18, when I walked the streets of this city at daylight, the realization of what had happened to our town in a short three hours really was emotional for me,” Cathey said. “There was nothing. 80% of our city was destroyed. We were flat, and rubble, debris, and nothing identifiable.”

It’s a sight other Mexico Beach residents can recall clearly, too.

“The next thing is our house,” resident Jack Mullen said. “We had lived in it for 20 years, so we had accumulated a lot of things that were very personal to us. It was all gone.”

“Watching the walls blow off my porch,” the mayor’s grandson Braden Cathey said. “Watching the kitchen roof get ripped up.”

Mayor Cathey said showing compassion is half the battle during difficult times like these.

“I helped people look through piles of rubble to find baby pictures, to find a scrapbook,” the mayor said. “It made them feel good.”

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words for a reason.

“The things that matter, you miss the most,” Mullen said. “Like the picture of the granddaughter at her first day of school or your daughter’s father-daughter dance picture. You go to find the picture and no, you don’t have it.”

Mayor Cathey said Mexico Beach is nearly 60% rebuilt.