Mexico Beach officials reflect back on Hurricane Michael on storm's anniversary

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WJHG) - Mexico Beach has been called "ground zero" when it comes to the devastation left by Hurricane Michael. Jordan McCool was live there one year later to talk with officials about the progress that's been made there one year later.

Mayor Al Cathey says reconstruction of the city has taken off, but there is still a long way to go.

"We lost 75 percent of our city, but the spirit of the city to come back is strong," he said.

Debris removal cost more than $60 million alone.

"But in order to rebuild, you got to clean up," Cathey said. "You got to present yourself like you're back in business, and that's what we've been trying to do."

Cathey says the canal is back open, the beaches are cleaned up, and the fishing is good in Mexico Beach. However, many small businesses that were there before the storm have yet to return.

"We don't have a gas station, we don't have a bank, we don't have a grocery store, we don't have a sit-down restaurant," he said, "but we're focused on the things that we do have and we are making the most out of a terrible situation."

Fire Chief Sandy Walker echoes the message that the city is coming back, but says the past year has not been without its challenges.

"It's been a difficult year for everybody in a lot of ways obviously," Fire Chief Sandy Walker said, "This fire department had only become a full time in May of last year, and then to be handed this on the tenth of October is not an easy thing to deal with for anybody."

Just a few weeks ago, Governor Ron Desantis announced that the Florida Division of Emergency Management is awarding $1.1 million to Mexico Beach to support fire department and law enforcement operations.

To hear more from Mayor Cathey, Chief Walker, and from Police Chief Anthony Kelly about why he says Mexico Beach is on the rise, watch Jordan's full interviews.

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