For those without much, Michael creates hard­ship

The Palm Beach Post - - BACK OF THE FRONT - By Brendan Farrington

LYNN HAVEN, FLA. — Mary Frances Par­rish is ex­pect­ing to be without elec­tric­ity for weeks, or roughly the same time the ter­mi­nally ill son she’s car­ing for is ex­pected to live.

In the days af­ter Hur­ri­cane Michael smashed through her neigh­bor­hood, leav­ing many of her neigh­bors’ homes de­stroyed, she and her son Der­rell, 47, were plan­ning to stay, with or without run­ning wa­ter and elec­tric­ity. The rea­son is the same as why she rode out the storm in the tiny house: She doesn’t have a run­ning car and she doesn’t know where she would go.

“I didn’t have a way of getting away from here. My car’s un­der re­pair and there’s nowhere to go or the money to pay for a place,” the 72-year-old Par­rish said. “Peo­ple are send­ing stuff in. I’ve got plenty of wa­ter, I’ve got cold drinks, I’ve got plenty to eat. It may be right out of the can, but it’s plenty to eat. As long as you can have plenty to eat and drink and stay in good spir­its, you’ll make it.”

Par­rish, whose son has cancer, is in a po­si­tion many in the Panama City re­gion are fac­ing. They have dam­aged homes, no power, and don’t have the re­sources to re­lo­cate, ei­ther to a new home or a tem­po­rary home.

Around the cor­ner from Par­rish, Nanya Thomp­son, 68, was hang­ing clothes to dry from the power lines that were now dan­gling a cou­ple of feet off the ground di­rectly in front of her apart­ment door. All but two of the win­dows of the small home were blown out dur­ing the storm, and part of the roof came off, blow­ing wa­ter and in­su­la­tion into it.

She was a ho­tel worker, but the ho­tel she worked at was dam­aged dur­ing the storm and now her job is gone. The owner al­lowed her to stay at the ho­tel until author­i­ties said it wasn’t safe for peo­ple to be there.

So for now, she’s stay­ing put.

“I’m plan­ning on stay­ing until some­one comes to go to the door and tells me to go,” she said, adding she’s wait­ing for her so­cial se­cu­rity check at the end of the month to help keep her go­ing. “At my age it will be hard for me to get an­other job. I may not hold out here. I may just have to leave.”

Far­ther south in Panama City, Clin­ton Mose­ley, 55, was clean­ing limbs and de­bris from the house he shares with his 81-year-old mother, Re­becca. An enor­mous tree crashed through the roof above one of the bed­rooms of the house that’s been in his fam­ily for a cen­tury. Wa­ter gushed in, but he said they’re stay­ing.

Mose­ley, who lost his right leg be­low the knee in a car ac­ci­dent, was sweaty and tired as he tried to clean up. But he doesn’t have a job and he said he and his mother are stay­ing in the house in a par­tic­u­larly hard-hit neigh­bor­hood.

“Where the hell do you go?” he said. “I sur­vive. I got one leg. I sur­vive. ... I don’t have noth­ing. I ain’t go­ing nowhere.”

A few streets down, Gay Lit­tle, 72, re­turned to her home to gather her be­long­ings with the help of her daugh­ter-in-law. She stayed with her son and his fam­ily dur­ing the storm far­ther north in Bay County, but came back to find her home un­liv­able. Be­fore the storm, she had dec­o­rated her yard with a lively Christ­mas in Oc­to­ber dis­play. Now or­na­ments and plas­tic San­tas were blown into sur­round­ing yards while fig­urines were scat­tered around her home.

Lit­tle lives alone in the house. She has in­sur­ance, but she doesn’t have cell­phone ser­vice to con­tact her in­sur­ance com­pany. She’s dis­abled and her only in­come is So­cial Se­cu­rity.

“I don’t have any­body but me, and I’ve lost ev­ery­thing I’ve had,” Lit­tle said. “I get enough just to pay my bills. I have $3 a month left­over.”

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