Hurricane Opal caused major damage in Bay, Walton and Okaloosa counties in early October 1995. The eye of the Category 3 storm made landfall around Navarre with sustained winds of about 115 miles-per-hour.
That put most of the Florida panhandle on the east side, typically the worst side of a storm. Most of Opal's destruction was caused by the eight to fourteen foot storm surge. It destroyed numerous homes on the beach and washed out Highway 98, west of Destin.
Some couldn't return home for several days. There are probably countless local people who could tell you exactly what they were doing fourteen years ago Sunday.
Doug Lindsey says, "I got $250,000 in FEMA loans that I've been paying for fourteen years, got another sixteen years to pay on them. It's about the worst one that I remember, born here in '46, Lisenby Hospital." Bud Miller says, "There were tree limbs all over the place, no traffic, no cars. I got on my bicycle, took a ride down here to the pier and everything was a mess."
Opal is blamed for a total of $3 billion in damages; $30 million of that in Bay County.