The Bay County emergency shelter at Arnold High School closed Friday, Nov. 30.
Sheltering operations, in conjunction with The American Red Cross, began Oct. 9, prior to Hurricane Michael’s landfall, with ultimately a total of five shelters open, serving a high of almost 1,500 Bay County residents before, during and after the storm. In order to allow schools to resume operations, the facilities were consolidated into a single shelter at Arnold High School on Oct. 30, serving 721 people and their pets. Over the last month, the federal government, state of Florida, Bay County, and the American Red Cross have provided extensive resources and assistance from an array of agencies to the clients at the shelter in finding housing alternatives. As of Tuesday morning, 82 people remain at the school.
“The county and the American Red Cross will continue to make every effort to find accommodations for those still in need,” Bay County Commission Chairman Philip “Griff” Griffitts said. “I am hopeful that those remaining in the shelter will take advantage of the resources being offered to them to resolve their housing issues.”
Griffitts thanked Kevin Guthrie, chief of staff for the State of Florida Division of Emergency Management, for his assistance and leadership, as well as the Red Cross and the many other volunteer organizations who have assisted in providing a safe, caring environment for evacuees.
“This has been one of the longest-running emergency shelters in Florida’s history for one of the worst disasters this state has ever seen,” he said. “We still have a long road to recovery, but we will get through this, together.”
The Disaster Recovery Centers remain available to Hurricane Michael residents in need at the Bay County Public Library at 898 W. 11th St., Panama City; John B. Gore Park at 599 Beulah Ave., Callaway; and Southport Ball Fields at 2120 Ball Park Rd., Southport.