Night to Unite event brings major announcements for future of Bay County

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - One year after Hurricane Michael, Rebuild Bay County Inc. brought the community together to reflect on the day that forever altered Bay County with ANight to Unite at Tommy Oliver Stadium.

The event brought the community together to reflect on the last year. (WJHG/WECP)

Janice Lucas, Vice Chair of Rebuild Bay County Inc., said, "We've come together to commemorate something that changed our whole community and many lives. We've come to celebrate the fact that we're survivors, and to take the time to be together again."

The event had live music and activities for kids.

As local and state leaders talked about the progress made in the last year, some announcements gave way to future progress.

"Governor DeSantis delivered the news that the reimbursement that's from FEMA for $150 million is sitting in the state coffers and he will be cutting a check to the Bay County commission, hopefully in the next few days, so that will help us repay back some of the debt we've incurred from the storm, so that is really great news, it's a huge benefit for all of the citizens of Bay County," said Bay County Commissioner Philip "Griff" Griffitts.

As county officials celebrated the reimbursement for debris pickup, Habitat for Humanity of Bay County learned Wells Fargo donated $168,500 to the non-profit, along with State Farms donation of $75,000.

"These combined with other donations will help us, first of all, build seven homes between now and next June, which is the end of our fiscal year, as well as what we're shooting for now is a hundred critical home repairs, which include, many of them, full roof replacements," said Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Bay County & Chairman of Rebuild Bay County Inc. Lance Rettig.

County officials say they're excited for what's to come for Bay County.

"I think we'll never forget it [Hurricane Michael], but let's hope the memories will be pleasant, that we'll come back and we're bigger, better, and stronger because of it. I think it used to be 850 Strong after the storm, and now we're going to be 850 Stronger," said Griffitts.

On a day that once held sadness, hope was once again brought to our community.

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