Photography by Michelle Wells earlier this morning at Panama City Beach, Florida. Video shot this morning as well as Sally made herself known on the Gulf Coast.
Time for walks on the beach, ocean air, and plenty of sunshine. That’s what Michelle Wells thought as she headed to Panama City Beach, Florida this past Saturday. The car was loaded up and the wheels set in motion. Wells knew she was ready for a break. So ready for a break that she didn’t check the extended forecast until she was well on her way.
Sally or no Sally, the planned vacation was freeing for Wells. After seeing the weather forecast, Wells said, “I wasn’t scared of Sally as I knew she was a tropical storm. Emotionally, I was disappointed to find out half of our vacation would be spent inside after spending so much time indoors at home due to COVID-19."
Wells said, “We started seeing pieces of Sally when we arrived on Saturday.” Knowing they would need supplies, the family went shopping as soon as they got there. They bought extra water and groceries to last for a couple of days.
Wells had booked a condominium from a friend on the 20th floor at the beach. She said, “I’ve been in tropical storms before but not like this one. It’s different on the 20th floor. The noise has made me nuts.”
As the wind continued to howl, Wells expressed an attraction to storms. “Friends and family call me “Mrs. Cantore” during our bad weather back home. I call my kids to remind them to be aware of their surroundings. Mother nature fascinates me.”
“Last night was a little scary,” Wells admitted. “The noise was deafening. My phone alarm went off all night with tornado alerts.” Several times, the family took shelter in the bathroom during the warnings.
The ocean was ferocious. Wells said "it (the ocean) was churning and churning. I’ve never seen waves this high before in Florida.”
After speaking with Wells this afternoon, she said the worst was over but expects to have more warnings continue throughout the day. “Tomorrow we should be able to get on the beach and relax,” she said. “I’m ready for some sand between my toes.”
In the video shot by Wells Wednesday morning, there were people walking around at the edge of the water. Wells said, “We thought about getting out and walking on the beach but one minute things were fine and the next you couldn’t see two feet in front of you.”
The family has been going to Destin and Florida for many years and have only been told to evacuate twice due to hurricanes. “It’s not fun being evacuated," said Wells.
As Sally makes her way through Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and out to the Atlantic, the rain, surge and wind has definitely caused some damage. Just up the coast closer to the epicenter of the hurricane is Pensacola, Florida. Mayor Grover C. Robinson spoke with one of the Weather Center meteorologists about the storm. He talked about the howling wind, the crashing waves, and the endless rain. He said that the rain was the worst part. “One of the things about living on the gulf coast is understanding resiliency. Mother nature needs to be respected.”