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Mexico Beach business receives grant from Never Forgotten Coast

Posted at 5:45 PM, Jan 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 16:14:00-04

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WTXL) - Many business owners in Mexico Beach have not started picking up the pieces of what was lost during Hurricane Michael and for some, that's everything.

That's why the Never Forgotten Coast campaign raised money to help nine business get a kick start. 

Alyson and Justin Gurlach stand in a mess of broken glass, twisted metal and wreckage of what used to be their business, Pristine Properties Vacation Rentals. 

"It's now been completely destroyed and the building has been moved 100 yards from where it sat," said Justin. "And on top of our lot used to be grass, parking lot, manicured is sand, beaches. We've become the beach on the other side of the road." 

And that's no exaggeration. Dump trucks removed three loads of sand from the Gurlach's lot and there's still several feet on top of where their office was just over 3 months ago. 

"October was our 15th anniversary of being in business. And we employ about 30 people. So we do this for us, but we do this for them as well," said Alyson. "So not having some of them working on an every day basis has been hard." 

The Gurlachs gaze over years of hard work, now in a tangled mess, pointing out things they recognize from their office. 

Two houses were ripped off their stilts, blown across highway 98, and took the Gurlach's business with them. 

All three buildings, now several hundred yards from where they started, are sitting in a pile of wood and concrete rubble with their personal belongings wrapped up somewhere in all this destruction. 

A mess that's one step closer to normalcy thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Never Forgotten Coast campaign.  

"We couldn't do this alone. It's been amazing. You never knew how truly connected folks were to Mexico Beach and it's inspiring, it's comforting," said Alyson. 

A silver lining during this time of devastation and rebuilding. The Gurlach's hope to have a trailer on-site by April to show the community they're up and running even though their office is unrecognizable. 

"The storm didn't just come and take our office and we're leaving, our business is leaving. We're coming back," said Justin. 

And they plan to be back and stronger than ever for their 20th anniversary. 

The Gurlach's own one of nine businesses who will immediately see money from this campaign.

The micro-grant program is in partnership with the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association.