Thursday, October 11, 2018

Poor, Rural Communities Stuck in Hurricane Michael

This is really interesting.

At the New York Times, "‘I Got Stuck’: In Poor, Rural Communities, Fleeing Hurricane Michael Was Tough":

PANACEA, Fla. — The orders came down to mobile home residents as the menace of Hurricane Michael approached in the Gulf of Mexico: Get out. Get out now.

The evacuation mandate reached Gene Bearden, 76, in this blink-and-you-miss-it town with an aspirational name south of Tallahassee and in an area where a storm surge of up to 13 feet had been forecast.

Mr. Bearden wanted to leave. He had been wanting to leave Panacea, in fact, for four years, but had not mustered the financial wherewithal to do it, and the arrival of a Category 4 hurricane did nothing to change that.

Versions of his story played out across the eastern edge of the Florida Panhandle, home to modest coastal communities where people already hard on their luck had little means to escape the storm’s wrath.

Mr. Bearden had not planned to stay in Panacea when he visited his aunt in 2014. But when he tried to renew his driver’s license, he ran into a problem with his birth certificate, which he couldn’t fix unless he went to Atlanta — he was born in Georgia. He couldn’t make it there. So he stayed, without a license, in an RV park here.

“I got stuck,” he said.

With the storm looming this week, sheriff’s deputies showed up on Wednesday to get residents out. Mr. Bearden explained why he could not just drive away. A kind deputy found a solution, Mr. Bearden said: He wrote him a letter authorizing him to drive, with no license and no current vehicle registration, to a place far enough north to be safe. Mr. Bearden packed up a white pickup and drove — but only to the next town, Medart, where he rode out the storm inside his parked truck.

“It wasn’t fun,” he said on Thursday, back at the RV camp, now almost entirely empty. “Everybody left. They had to.”
More at that top link.