Woman's Club of Panama City rebuilding after hurricane Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla.(WJHG) - The Woman's Club of Panama City has a close-knit membership.

"Some of these ladies have been together since elementary school, high school, and college," said Club President Stephanie Cantrell.

So when one member is suffering, they all pitch in to help.

"Several club members lost everything. They lost their homes and everything in it," said Cantrell.

Other members have offered condos or helped displaced members find temporary housing and any other necessities. "We really love each other and we love doing things to help each other and to help our community," said Cantrell.

Help for the community has been on hold since Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle three months ago, hitting the Cove area of Panama City especially hard. The organization's clubhouse is one of the first buildings you see when you turn onto Cove Boulevard and Michael left its mark.

"We lost every shingle on our roof," said Cantrell. "When we lost all our shingles it rained inside our clubhouse. We lost our chairs, our tables, our piano, our ceilings, and our floors."

Just last year the clubhouse was dedicated as a historical site. "The building was built in1936," said Cantrell. "To come in and see the damage that was done to it was just heartbreaking."

But Cantrell was determined to save at least one part of the building.

"When we had the company come in and do mold remediation and that sort of thing I told them, 'Don't you dare touch this hardwood floor it's been here since 1936. We're gonna fix it.'"

It could take months for the clubhouse to be fully repaired but this group is determined. "Hopefully we get our clubhouse back together real soon but even if we don't we are still going to meet and do what we need to help our community," said Cantrell.

That's why for the first time in three months, close to 60 members out of 148 trudged through the debris Thursday to meet at the clubhouse as a group.

"Our community is where our heart is," Cantrell said.

One project already in the works: planting one thousand trees. "I can't think of a community that needs trees more than this one," said Cantell. "I've had some people say, 'I don't want another oak tree in my yard,' but we can always plant crepe myrtles or dogwoods."

So for the dozens of local organizations that depend on the Woman's Club to help raise money or volunteer the members have a message for you.

"The Woman's Club has been around since 1913 and we're not going anywhere. We're not gonna worry about Hurricane Michael, that's in the past. We're looking to the future now," said Cantrell.

One special upcoming event is the annual World War II and Korean Veterans Valentine's luncheon. It won't be at the clubhouse, but it will still go on with a location change to the American Legion on Oak Avenue.