Panama City leaders create plans for the city's future

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It's been a little more than two months since Hurricane Michael swept through the Panhandle and changed Northwest Florida forever.

"Two days before the storm, they were talking category one, possible category two, and it turned out to be somewhere between a four and a five or a five plus and I don't think we could've prepared other than if we would have taken all the trees down ahead of time, for the devastation that we experienced," Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said.

Preparing for the storm seemed impossible, but planning for the future is something Panama City can do.

With the help of other city leaders, Mayor Greg Brudnicki and City Manager Mark McQueen created principal guidelines, organizing the plans for how the city will be moving forward.

"It's an all-encompassing effort upon the city to change and make better, it's future," McQueen said.

The rough draft of the guidelines include six pages of priority items including utilities, electrical, water, and sewer, but Mayor Brudnicki says one item on the guidelines is most important.

"Restarting the engine, the economy, that is the most important issue, most difficult, but it's one to make sure we can keep our people so that we can get our hospitals open, get our nursing homes, get our retail rolling. You gotta have all those things flowing from Tyndall [Air Force Base] all the way to the Port, Eastern Shipbuilding, paper mill, all the things that keep our economy going here. We have to have those rolling to be able to keep our citizens," he said.

More citizens mean the need for more housing.

"You can't have industry without people and you can't have people here without housing," McQueen said.

The city is partnering with the Panama City Housing Authority, opening up properties for FEMA trailers, and has purchased property on Horizon Drive to build homes on.

Other items on the guidelines include improved communication, education, transportation, and quality of life.

You can find the full list linked on this page.

Public forums are set to be held before the guidelines are finalized to give citizens a chance to have an input.