BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG) - The road to recovery post-Hurricane Michael has been long and many people are still waiting on their homes to be repaired, but one nonprofit is spreading hope to the Panhandle.
"I think that this is just an opportunity to be able to show a community that you really care about [it] and it's just something that you just do," Executive Director of Hope Panhandle, Mara Harrison said.
Mara Harrison has close ties to the area. Her family lives in Panama City, and her husband is a dentist in Lynn Haven.
Harrison lives just west of Panama City and her house was spared, but right after the storm she wanted to help but wasn't sure how.
"We saw that the community just needed a lot of help and we kind of rallied our friends around 30A and they all started providing relief efforts," Harrison said.
Hope Panhandle was created with the mission of offering relief and recovery. What started as volunteers serving meals and giving out supplies quickly turned into helping rebuild homes.
"We have been able to muck, gut, and mold remediate 90 homes, and what that means is just going inside a home that's been ruined and take out all of the debris that's moldy or yucky from the storm and then we mold remediate the wood, the frame of the house and then we start the rebuild process,"Harrison said.
The nonprofit follows a construction operation model designed by a national organization called SBP which has AmeriCorps employees lead rebuilding efforts. The organization also relies heavily on the thousands of volunteers they've had to date.
"When we all came out the first day, mind you, we aren't far from here at all, I think it was just shock that it still looks this way, and that six months later it looks like it just happened yesterday," Volunteer, Jessica Standley said.
Hope Panhandle is currently working on five homes and hopes to have the homeowners back in their homes in the next few weeks.
"This area is really hurting and honestly the people feel really forgotten for a lot of justified reasons, and so we are here as long as we can stay," Harrison said.
Neighbors helping neighbors, Hope Panhandle is spreading hope and lending a helping hand.