Hurricane Michael, the third most powerful hurricane to ever make landfall on the United States mainland, ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia on October 10th. While only early estimates are available at this point in time, it has been reported that more than 650,000 homes and businesses across the Southeast lost power, and 60,000 of those are in Alabama. Thus far, the Coast Guard says it has rescued 30 people, mostly from badly damaged homes. Hundreds of families lost everything, and it has been confirmed that at least half a dozen people were killed.
While Hurricane Michael appears to have done its worst in Panama City, Florida, and the nearby areas, Barbour, Dale, Henry, Geneva, and Houston Counties in our district were also impacted. It could potentially take days, or even weeks, before we know the full scale of the damage, but we do know that Hurricane Michael is the most powerful storm to ever hit Houston County according to recorded history.
According to The Dothan Eagle, Dothan Fire Chief Larry Williams said crew members performed 22 rescues during the storm. We’ve not yet received official word on how many injuries there are, but we have been told there are several, some of which are severe. Crews across the Wiregrass remain in search and rescue mode to date.
Our farmers face significant troubles as well. While the full scale of the damage to local agriculture is still being assessed, Hurricane Michael dealt a devastating blow to cotton farmers in the area. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to view some of the cotton crop firsthand, and it was clear that our cotton farmers were set up to have a very good yield this year. Wiregrass peanut farmers are waiting to see the full extent of devastation to their crop, too.
As our cotton farmers, peanut farmers, and farmers of other commodities in our district learn more about the impact of this storm on their crops, my office is eager to assist in any way and will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on assistance that may be available to impacted farms. Agriculture and its related industries are the engine of our economy in Alabama’s Second District, and this catastrophic storm has unfortunately resulted in an economic setback.
Hurricane Michael was an unprecedented disaster for our district and the Southeast. While the threat of severe weather is no longer hovering over us, those who live in the Wiregrass – and not to mention the people across the Florida Panhandle and parts of Georgia – are facing terrible damage. My office has been engaged with FEMA, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, and others throughout this difficult time. We stand ready to assist in whatever ways we can as we work through the aftermath of this storm. I encourage anyone who lives in Alabama’s Second District to contact my office for help, and we will do all that we can to provide assistance and point you in the right direction. We are committed to ensuring no one endures this time of rebuilding alone.
Above all, please join me in praying for all those impacted by Hurricane Michael. Some families have lost their loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods. I encourage everyone to help out with relief efforts in whatever way you can. We should all be deeply thankful for the first responders and all those working to repair the damage. This is a very, very trying and difficult time for so many people across the Southeast, and we will get through it together.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.