HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — When Hurricane Michael first began moving through the Gulf as a lesser storm, no one really knew at first where it was headed or how hard it was going to hit.
This caught many in the Wiregrass off-guard, especially local EMA agencies.
Instead of having at least 72 hours to prepare, they just had 24, and while Dothan was not hit directly, it still caused damage throughout the city.
“We were all down in our basement,” Dothan resident Timothy Neve said. “The power went out, and we were just kind of hanging out a little bit, and all of a sudden, we heard this huge crash. We stuck our head out of the door and saw that, and of course, raining tremendously, and the wind was blowing so we just we saw it and went back downstairs.”
A year later, Dothan-Houston County EMA Director Chris Judah reflects on how they prepared for one of the worst catastrophes the Wiregrass has seen. This dealt with setting up shelters and getting all the government agencies together to keep communication flowing.
“You always plan for things and try to works towards that, and it doesn’t matter how good your plan is, you always have to have adjustments,” Judah said. “Michael came on us quick, it really did, because Sunday and Monday we were watching it, and we were told it’s just going to be a thunderstorm. By Tuesday, holy cow, it had really gained some strength and then went from a category three and then a four.”
When disasters hit, that’s when people come together the most to help each other, and Judah said that Hurricane Michael was no different.
“It’s not, oh I need this or I want this, it’s what can I do for you, and people helping each other,” Judah said. “It’s amazing. People are amazing when a catastrophe happens and disasters come in, you know, people take over and they do what needs to be done, and the people of the Wiregrass area are unbelievable.”
Judah said what they learned from this and will haunt us is the economic impact it will have on the Wiregrass.
On the east side of Houston County, people are still recovering from Hurricane Michael, and because FEMA didn’t provide a lot they are having to rely on themselves, their insurance, and their neighbors to be able to rebuild their homes.