WEWAHITCHKA - Residents have a new and improved place to live in Gulf County after recovery teams partnered with the county to bring shelter to those who lost their homes in Hurricane Michael.
The family who just moved into their new house after a seven-month journey say they feel grateful and blessed to have been on the receiving end of the SHIP (State Housing Initiatives Partnership) program.
“It’s like a dream still,” said new homeowner Grady McDaniel.
Since Hurricane Michael, McDaniel and his family have many of their belongings in storage and lived with different family members.
“We just about didn’t have anything, then we kind of got by, but thanks to the SHIP program,” he said.
The McDaniels have been able to move into this one-story, three-bedroom house, and there was no shortage of assistance when it came to building it.
“Thankfully we were able to partner with the county, we were able to partner with FLASH, the federal alliance of safe homes, we were able to partner with High Socks for Hope and so many people came together, and Mennonite disaster services,” said United Methodist Church Director of Hurricane Michael Recovery Chris Ackerman.
Ackerman, who is also known as the “Disaster Pastor” in the Panhandle, said when they started this project, they didn’t want to just replace mobile homes.
“We wanted to build brand new homes instead, and this home behind me is actually a FORTIFIED gold home,” said Ackerman. “We got that because we partnered with FLASH, the federal alliance of safe homes. This home goes beyond code.”
McDaniel and his family will be even safer for the next storm and they will not be the only family.
By the end of last month, there were 41 brand-new homes dedicated to families who have also lost their safe place after the hurricane.
“I watched them build it from the ground up, it sure was good,” said McDaniel.
The house they dedicated to the McDaniel family was built for less than $80,000 thanks to all of the partnerships. The program funding will allow them to assist more families.