LYNN HAVEN — Cassidy Nelson had food to spare and wanted to share it all.

The general manager of the Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q near hurricane-ravaged Lynn Haven just didn’t know if anyone would show up Friday to eat.

He had no reason to worry.

 

Hundreds of people turned out for the free barbecue chicken, ribs and hamburgers cooked in the Sonny’s propane-fueled smoker — all without Nelson telling anybody what he planned to do. Nelson’s generosity was a microcosm of the recovery under way in the Lynn Haven area since Hurricane Michael blasted through on Wednesday. From power crews resetting electricity poles to volunteers handing out supplies, recovery work and help were everywhere.

“All of my family is here serving,” Nelson said as people lined up for food at a table set up outside Sonny’s. “I just wanted to help the community.”

Nelson said he planned to feed people on Saturday, too.

“We’ve got food for days,” he said. “If anyone wants to donate some propane, that’s all I need.”

All around the restaurant and up and down Highway 77 through Lynn Haven were signs of destruction and of need.

Trees everywhere were snapped and splintered. Power poles were on the ground and many inactive power lines lied along Highway 77 or in the road. Many buildings and businesses were smashed or without roofs. Traffic south into Lynn Haven was bumper-to-bumper as people tried to get into Panama City.

The Lynn Haven Goodwill lost the entire front of its building. Its supply of clothes still hung neatly on racks and colorful stuffed toys sat on shelves like nothing had happened.

The rest of Bay County wasn’t faring much better Friday.

Kimberly Blair, spokeswoman with Gulf Power, said that as of 8 a.m., 105,554 customers, primarily in the Panama City and eastern areas, were without power. So far, 37,000 customers’ power had been restored.

Blair said the destruction has made it difficult to restore power quickly.

“We’re just trying to get lines in but there’s vegetation everywhere,” Blair said. “Getting into Lynn Haven is very difficult right now."

Jeff Shepard, another spokesman with Gulf Power, said there was still no timetable for when power would be fully restored.

“There’s no timetable other than we believe it’ll be weeks,” Shepard said. “It’s a total system rebuild for the hardest-hit areas of Bay County.”

Meanwhile Friday morning, residents waited outside the partially destroyed Lynn Haven City Hall for the promise of donated supplies.

“I heard on the radio there was supposed to be more supplies here at noon,” Candice Banks said. “They’re supposed to have chainsaws.”

Banks said her house survived the hurricane, but the trees in her yard weren’t as lucky.

“We have nine oak trees down in our yard,” Banks said.

Further south on Highway 77, Donnie Childree was inspecting the remains of Central Pentecostal Ministries, which he has attended since 1999. The building lost its facade in the hurricane, but its glass doors and frame remained intact.

“They’ll definitely rebuild,” Childree said of the church. “The frame is all still fine.”