Mexico Beach on the mend two years after Hurricane Michael

Mayor Cathey said the community's excitement for the future is contagious.
Mayor Cathey said the community's excitement for the future is contagious.(WJHG/WECP)
Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 7:40 PM CDT
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MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Mass destruction was all that could be seen in Mexico Beach after Hurricane Michael’s relentless category 5 winds hit the city.

“The emotions of the amount of devastation was overwhelming,” said Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey.

“We got hit so hard that the whole beach was just in piles,” said Mexico Beach resident Cathey Hobbs.

Those piles representing years of wonderful memories made in the quaint city, both by visitors and locals.

“Michael did take away some of our identity, it sort of kicked us in the teeth,” said Mayor Cathey. “We know what we want. We want our charm, our character, our quality of life.”

As the city began the long rebuilding process one main goal was to make sure it never loses that charm.

“It’s still going to have its same drawings that it had, it’s same heartbeat I think,” said Hobbs. “I think that didn’t totally get lost in the storm.”

Two years of rebuilding has been slow, but steady. Being a small town has affected the pace of reconstructing the city.

“We’re a mom and pop business community so we don’t have the resources that a corporate America does to help us get started,” said Mayor Cathey.

As of today, 150 new home building permits have been pulled, a brand-new bank opened last Friday, and small businesses continue to be the backbone for the community. In 2019, Mexico Beach had 61 new homes built and 499 homes repaired. In 2020, it’s had 85 new homes built and 204 homes repaired.

Mexico Beach residents are thrilled about the city’s progress.

“It’s wonderful, I’m the biggest cheerleader they can have cheering them on,” said Hobbs. “It’s happening, it just takes a while.”

“We have vibrant people that are excited about being here, excited about rebuilding, there’s just some enthusiasm about our little community,” said Mayor Cathey.

No matter what, Mexico Beach will stay true to who it is.

“We don’t want to be a cookie-cutter coastal community, we do not want that,” said Mayor Cathey. “We’re going to stay the course. In the end, what we have is what we want.”

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