Recovery into revival: Bainbridge one year after Hurricane Michael

By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 10, 2019

On the first anniversary of Hurricane Michael making landfall, Bainbridge city officials say their recovery efforts are on on track.

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — On the first anniversary of Hurricane Michael making landfall, Bainbridge city officials say their recovery efforts are on track.

City Manager Chris Hobby says they're finally getting the pieces together.

"The widespread nature of this was incredible," Hobby says.

When the storm initially hit, the sights and sounds of heavy machinery filled the Bainbridge community.

"There was no part of town not impacted," Hobby says.

Six months after the storm, thick debris still mounted and some damaged homes were still untouched.

"I think the enduring image of Hurricane Michael for here will be the blue tarp," Hobby says.

The city says the recovery from the storm is its renaissance.

"We were blessed in a way because as the storm passed through and we started to recover," Hobby says. "Then we started seeing all this other activity coming into the downtown area."

New business renovations and final storm repairs kept downtown under construction.

"Just awesome patience from our merchants downtown as they work through dealing with the aftermath of the storm," Hobby says.

However, while some merchants are excited for the growth, the patience of others is wearing thing.

"If you look outside my store with the building next to me, I have been patient and patient for months," Denise Webb, who has owned LTL Flowers and Gifts for 20 years, says.

Webb says it's not the storm cleanup, repairs or lack of sales hindering her business.

"The parking downtown is a big concern," she says. "They need to kind of map it out a little bit better when they're doing construction."

The city says it's helping the merchants with a work in progress that's worth the wait.

"If you didn't have new industry moving in and new folks moving in and the new energy they're bringing with them, maybe our recovery would have not been as robust," Hobbs says.

The Downtown Development Authority says since Hurricane Michael, eight new businesses, 47 jobs and more than $1.5 million in private investments have reinvigorated Bainbridge.

"It's created an exciting atmosphere, and that's a good thing," Hobbs says.

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