Small Florida town reeling, rallying in wake of Hurricane Michael

Blountstown storm damage unusual because it's so far inland


BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. – Blountstown, Florida, is 50 miles west of the state capital and 52 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.

The small town now resembles a war zone in the wake of Hurricane Michael. 

The destruction was unusual because the town is so far inland.

The prison outside Blountstown was so damaged that inmates had to be transferred. It was one of several Panhandle prisons that had to be closed because of storm damage.

Carolyn Panek rode out the 145 mph winds of Michael on the floor of a friend's house in Blountstown.

“(I'm) very glad to be alive. I have never seen anything like this. It’s unreal,” Panek said. "Of course, I was afraid. I was in a little old bitty utility room on a dog pad with a blanket and a pillow.”

Panek picked up relief supplies Monday at the First Baptist Church, which lost part of its roof in the storm.

Despite the damage, Pastor Tim Rhodes held services Sunday.

“We wanted to remember there is a God. He is good, and he loves us,” Rhodes said. "Even though you’re going through this, God’s still here.”


At the town’s main intersection, a Texas trucking company, whose owner grew up in Blountstown, set up a large-scale kitchen. 

“Just trying to cook, trying to keep up. We’re in desperate need of more water. We need ice. It’s unbelievable,” said Travis Platt, who is volunteering as a cook.

Thousands are being fed three meals a day.

“If it wasn’t for everybody out here, no, we probably wouldn’t be able to eat. And we are thankful. We are blessed,” said Jake Peters, a volunteer fireman.

The city has so much destruction, recovery will likely be measured not in months but years.