MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - A Meridianville family is hitting the road, taking supplies to their relatives who escaped the path of Hurricane Michael. Now, they’re stranded and have no way to get back to their homes to find out what damage the monster storm left in its wake.
Jordan Owens and her family members were packing up Thursday to take water, gas and other essential items to their loved ones in Fort Walton Beach. They evacuated there from the Parker/Callaway and area. They’re safe, but don’t what the hurricane did to their neighborhoods.
They are staying in a hotel for the time being, but that's becoming costly.
"We're just trying to get down there and get them what they need. Right now, they're absolutely stranded. They can't get to shelters. They can't get anywhere. There's no gas to get out. There's no gas to get in. They left with the shirts on their back and that's it," Owens said.
She has more family in Lynn Haven, just north of Panama City. She hasn't heard from them since the hurricane barreled through the panhandle.
"We've seen some devastation on the news that's just a few blocks from their house so it's concerning because we haven't been able to talk to them since then," Owens added.
She made a big trip to Costco and got on the road to Fort Walton Beach.
“Our game plan is to load up with the supplies that we can for now and get to them. The Walmarts are closed, everything is closed. They don’t have access to get anything for themselves. We’ll either bring them out or bring what they need to them,” Owens said.
As for her loved ones in Lynn Haven, they are eagerly waiting to hear from them.
“We keep praying. We’re just keeping our faith. We’re trying not to focus on it. Our family has a really good support system. We have an awesome church family and a great prayer group that’s been awesome with us so we’re just trying to lean on that and move forward from there,” she said.
Hurricane Michael, which is now a tropical storm, has left hundreds of thousand of people without electricity.
Crews from across the U.S. are heading to Florida help in impacted areas.
Huntsville Utilities is sending several crews to Chattahoochee to restore power. They expect to be gone several weeks to aid in the aftermath.
“They just want to get down there and get those folks restored to power as quickly as possible because as soon as they have power back, there’s a lot more things they can do. Without having the electricity stifles recovery and the guys that do this work just want to get in there and help,” said Joe Gehrdes, Huntsville Utilities' spokesman.
Huntsville teams will be working alongside crews from Decatur, Scottsboro, and Fairhope Utilities.
The Electric Cities of Alabama (ECA) coordinates disaster response for its member cities in Alabama and neighboring states.
An Athens Utilities crew is also headed to Havana, Florida to help with recovery efforts. Electric Department Manager Blair Davis said the crew left on Thursday.
“There are a lot of utility poles down, and our crew will help them restore their infrastructure,” Davis said.
The Town of Havana is located 14 miles north of Tallahassee in Gadsden County, Florida. News reports indicate there has been at least one hurricane-related fatality in that county.
“When Athens and Limestone County were hit by deadly tornadoes in 2011 and 2014, utility crews and other agencies from Alabama and elsewhere worked with us to restore power and recover, and I am grateful we can pay it forward by helping communities like Havana,” said Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks.
Marks has a friend, Louis Hurst, who lives and operates a couple of businesses in Havana. The two served together in Vietnam. Marks has not been able to reach Hurst by phone. Davis said phone service is spotty in that area, and the Athens crew took back up communication devices.
Davis said crews from Albertville and Russellville are also going to that area to help with recovery.