Local officials reflect on what Hurricane Michael's Catergory 5 status means

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Some local leaders say they knew Hurricane Michael would eventually be named a Category 5.

"I have been expecting that because just based on the metrics from the beginning," Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson said, "the fact that the hurricane hunter's plane was inside the eye of the hurricane as it came onshore, I knew there would be so much valuable data and I've advocated for that from the beginning."

"This is something that we expected," Bay County Emergency Services Chief Mark Bowen said. "There's only one organization in the world that can categorize a hurricane like this and it's NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

Now Chief Bowen says this should help the area get more assistance.

"This being categorized as a five will draw some national attention back, and again we're a small population of people that was affected by the third strongest storm in U.S. history," he said. Chief Bowen is referring to the storms central pressure of 919 millibars at landfall being the third lowest on record for a landfalling U.S. hurricane. NOAA says atmospheric pressure is a measure of storm intensity.

Mayor Anderson said this number can change Lynn Haven's future.

"It could mean the difference in really the survival of the town because our debris hauling bills are in excess of the entire city budget," she said.

For some locals, this news comes as no surprise to them.

"I thought that all along. I've been through a couple of hurricanes here in Panama City and I knew it was a five from the devastation that you see," Verida Bray of Lynn Haven said.

"We all knew that day what it was," Mayor Anderson said. "But science is a very exact thing and they have to have data and metrics and now the metrics are in and our area did experience a Category 5 storm."

Chief Bowen also mentioned the timing on classifying Michael is actually rather fast considering the number of weather instruments damaged during the storm.