Bad news for Pensacola is good news for Panama City - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Bad news for Pensacola is good news for Panama City

July 10, 2005

Panama City Beach, Fl-- Whew! If that's a word, then it's the word of the day here in Panama City.

Sunday was difficult, but far from disastrous. Panama city's famous sugar sand beaches disappeared. Lost beneath an unruly ocean.

"We're getting a good bit of storm surge. The water has just been washing and washing and washing," said Maj. David Humphreys of the P. C. Beach Police.

Hurricane Dennis landed his most powerful punch on Panama City during high tide. "We’re probably going to have a substantial amount of beach erosion and obviously an economic loss to the area in tourism. Millions of dollars lost there," said Humphreys.

The churning surf fractured fences and ripped down decks and tossed the trash right into the sides of beachfront buildings. At times now the wind is gusting so hard that it's hard to stand up straight. Lots of debris washing ashore as well, like huge pieces of debris, tiki huts from a resort just down the beach from where we are washed up and tumbled around.

This is about as risky as we want to get because some of these big waves are still rushing ashore and bringing with them some of this big debris. As Dennis roared ashore, few people were on the roads other than police on patrol. Here they stopped to move debris out of front beach road.

Dennis did damage, by crushing a small building. A door blew out of a hotel room, but the damage wasn't severe. And as people learned the eye of the hurricane hit land well west of here.

More of them came out to see the surf. "Been watching on TV all morning, and just decided to come out and get a bird's eye view," said P. C. beach resident Doug Haney.

The Red Cross is out too. Ready once again to help gulf coast hurricane victims. "Last year all told, we had 34,000 volunteers that were here helping," said Steven Kerr of the American Red Cross.

Thousands more will begin the recovery from Dennis Monday. "We’re going to start having our teams out there providing ice, providing mobile feeding sites and mental health counseling," said Kerr.

As bad as all this looks. Folks here know it doesn't come close to the devastation not too far down the road. "We feel very blessed," said David Humphreys.

Blessed because people here are safe. And those hidden beaches will back soon enough.

The rain here stopped long before sundown. Finally, just in the last two or three hours, the wind has started to let up, although it's still slinging some stinging sand.

And while those winds were rough, they didn't leave behind anything that will take weeks or months to clean up. We never lost power where we're staying, though others just down the street weren't so lucky.

There are still sporadic outages tonight. The best news-- no reported injuries here in Panama City.

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