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Gadsden County storm survivor reflects on Hurricane Michael

Posted at 7:15 PM, May 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 19:25:04-04

GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Hurricane Michael survivor Rosa Harrison says the help she received through Gadsden County is nothing short of a blessing.

"I'm so grateful that God laid it on their heart Just say we gonna have to tear that old house down and build you another one," Harrison said.

After Michael, county leaders determined her home was unlivable. "The pine tree to my left had broken off, slid cross my house. Two trees in the back fell, one tree on the right fell, and then the tree in the front fell," Harrison remembers vividly. "We had to get in the hallway ... we were without lights for 14 long days."

She's one of several people to receive a new home at no cost after the storm. Those homes are part of a State Housing Initiative Partnership and Hurricane Housing Repair Program funding, commonly known as SHIP and HHRP. In addition to taking care of those homes, the state awarded Gadsden County more than $2.2 million to repair infrastructure like two bridges that collapsed shortly after the storm.

Gadsden County Emergency Management Director Toashonda Whaley says some of the hardest hit areas like Chattahoochee and Greensboro are still working to overcome the impacts.

"Anytime that you have a storm of that magnitude, you're going to have recovery efforts that are extended," Whaley said.

Whaley says surviving such a powerful storm has helped county and community leaders better approach Hurricane Season. "Michael taught us a tremendous lesson, to not get lax in our preparation efforts," she explained.

Survivors like Harrison know to stock up early, "just in case we get stranded."

And even as Whaley warns about the unpredictability of hurricane season, she says says she's proud of her community's resilience. "The lasting impression from Hurricane Michael, I would say, is our ability to come together as a community."