MARIANNA – At least three people are dead as a result of Wednesday’s direct hit Hurricane Michael left on Jackson County. Sheriff Lou Roberts confirmed the deaths to FLA News. Details of the fatalities haven’t yet been released. Jackson County started its search and rescue efforts Thursday morning after tree-littered roads were cleared allowing law enforcement to focus on finding residents who were unaccounted for. The fear is there may be more who didn’t survive the strong winds that whipped through the county.
This wasn’t supposed to happen here. If you watched the Weather Channel’s wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Michael, one area you never heard mentioned as a potential impact was Jackson County. Now the rural county that borders both Alabama and Georgia has been brought to its knees by a hurricane that formed out of thin air just days ago.
Remarkably Michael entered Mexico Beach Wednesday morning as a strong category 4 hurricane, traveled 72 miles northward while keeping most of its strength, and delivered a sucker punch that no one saw coming.
“This was the most dangerous story we’ve ever had in Jackson County,” said Sheriff Roberts. “I’ve been in law enforcement for 43 years and I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
The impact of the storm is just being assessed here but it’ll clearly take months, if not years to fully rebuild. The destruction caused by the storm is widespread hitting government offices, local businesses, churches and homes throughout Jackson County.
Both the sheriffs office and Marianna Police Department lost parts of their roofs; a clinic adjoining Jackson Hospital also lost a roof; massive oak trees landed on homes and blocked roadways; and power lines are down knocking out electricity to 100 percent of the county.
While the media focus is on Panama City and Mexico Beach, the loses in Jackson County are just as real. The quiet-paced quality of life here won’t soon return to normal but it’s likely to bring a close-knit community even closer as neighbor helps neighbor to help recover from this one-in-a-lifetime natural disaster.