Hurricane victims displaced again

Published: Feb. 21, 2019 at 6:47 PM CST
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Ellen Gentry has called her rental apartment home since Hurricane Michael damaged her house.

Gentry said, "[I've] moved several times. Called one of the condos and found the one vacant in Bay County and I jumped on it."

But by the end of the month, Gentry, her two daughters, and her mother will have to find a new place to call home.

"I'm gonna move in with friends at the end of the month and I'm waiting to rent a house, like everybody else, waiting for it to get fixed--it's on a waiting list and... that's what I'm gonna do," she said.

Gentry is not alone. It's a common issue she's heard from others.

In just a few short weeks condos will be filling up with spring breakers and residents like Gentry will have to find somewhere else to go. Even though displaced hurricane victims will need a new place to live, Panama City Beach Mayor Mike Thomas says property owners depend on the coming spring months to make most of their money.

"Some of the motels, the condos, they've done better than they've ever done in the winter, but proportionately, it's not the same money. They have to have it," said Thomas. "They have to understand that other people had already gotten reservations in these places."

Still, the situation is difficult for everyone. "Emotions are very high right now. This spring season is gonna be hard for some people," said Thomas.

Gentry agrees. "You are gonna get a lot of people that are frustrated and sad and depression and anger and I'm disappointed in our area because it's not helping out your neighbor anymore. We're not looking out for each other," she said.

Neither Gentry nor Thomas has a solution to the issue. Like everyone else in the area, they will have to wait and see what's next.