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Looking Back at Hurricane Michael, Five Years Later

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Looking Back at Hurricane Michael, Five Years Later

Deeper Dive with Dara Kam


5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Officials looking back at 2018’s Hurricane Michael offer lessons in crisis management and resilience. 

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Overview
  • Insider's Take


Five years ago, a catastrophic hurricane made landfall in the Florida Panhandle. In this episode of the Deeper Dive podcast, host Dara Kam and her guests, Bay County Manager Robert Majka and State Rep. Philip Wayne “Griff” Griffitts, Jr. (R-Panama City Beach), reflect on lessons learned from 2018’s devastating Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm. The trio unpacks the most significant challenges local leaders and residents faced in the storm’s aftermath. They also discuss changes that need to occur legislatively – on the state and federal levels –to support local communities after natural disasters.


People in the Florida panhandle take storm warnings more seriously now than they did before Hurricane Michael.

In 2018, Category Five Hurricane Michael made landfall in Bay County on Florida’s panhandle. County Manager Robert Majka and then-chairman of the Bay County Commission, Philip Wayne “Griff” Griffitts, Jr., were among the first to see the terrible extent of the devastation. Before Hurricane Michael, people in Bay County often didn’t take storm evacuation warnings seriously. Many remembered evacuating for Hurricane Opal, only to see the storm dissipate before making landfall. Thus, when Michael threatened, many decided to ride out the storm at home – to their eventual regret.

Panhandle residents now take evacuation warnings more seriously – and they tell the area’s many newcomers to do the same. Sometimes people think they’ll be fine as long as their home survives, but being stuck in your house after a natural disaster like a hurricane can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Most people can’t handle being without electricity and running water for a week or more. And trying to evacuate after the fact is much...

About the Podcast

Robert Majka is the manager of Bay County, Florida, and Philip Wayne “Griff” Griffitts, Jr., now a member of the Florida House of Representatives, chaired the Bay County Commission at the time of Hurricane Michael. Dara Kam is the Senior Reporter of The News Service Of Florida and host of the Deeper Dive podcast.

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