A Bit More of What We Know About Michael

Physically, we’re still in Chicago.  Emotionally, we’ve been in Panama City Beach every day and night since Hurricane Michael landed.

Every day, and far into the wee hours of many nights, has been spent checking with and on family and friends and learning as much as we can about what’s going on.

The short story is, WE got lucky.  Most importantly, as we said in a previous post, Johnnie’s Dad is OK.  Our home is west of the Hathaway bridge, in Panama City Beach.  While there was/is some damage and resulting power/water outage problems, overall, life in that area, particularly the west end, will return or be returning to a semblance of normalcy reasonably soon or in the foreseeable future.

The tree that came down in our front yard has been taken care of.  To get to it, the power company had to remove an additional tree that we’d planted years ago with Steve’s Dad.  Our neighbors from across the street have just returned to PCB and tell us that, other than a little damage to a shed, our car and the expected debris in our front and back yard, from what they can see, our little yellow house appears to be OK.  Hopefully, we’ll get to see for ourselves when our, once again, rescheduled flight lands in PCB, next Sunday.

East of the Hathaway Bridge, in Panama City, Lynn Haven, Callaway and escalating significantly as you go farther eastward to places like Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe it’s a completely different story that, in some cases, resembles a war zone with areas and, more importantly, lives that have been forever changed.

All 3 of our local TV stations, WJHG, WECP and WMBB were knocked off the air.  Personalities from those stations, including WJHG’s Chief Meteorologist, Chris Smith, who joined us on Nick Digilio’s show on WGN before the storm hit, have been re-defining what it means for a broadcaster to serve your local community as they have continued to report through Facebook live, Twitter and other social media platforms using their cell phones, laptops or whatever forms of communication they could cobble together.

WKGC-FM, in Panama City, the radio station we work with when we’re on the gulf coast is the only Public Media/Radio station located inside the Bay County Emergency Operations Center in their backup facility and has been delivering breaking information on Hurricane Michael aftermath and search and recovery operations.

Speaking of WKGC-FM, the worlds first totally solar truck is gone, another of Michael’s victims. We were 2 of the 7 people who ever had the privilege of driving it for a Video Road Test project we were working on with WKGC-FM and Gulf Coast State College.

What’s left of the world’s first solar powered truck.

Unfortunately, a major blow was dealt to local media when Powell Broadcasting, which owned a cluster of radio stations in the area, announced that, after sustaining “catastrophic damage” to its facility on Panama City Beach, it would cease broadcasting operations in the market.  In a statement they said “Hurricane Michael did catastrophic damage to our physical plant to the point that rebuilding was uneconomic.”

In many cases, due to lack of cell phone, Internet and cable, we have more information about what’s going on along the panhandle than some of our friends living there do.  We’ve been doing our best to funnel it to them.

Many of our friends have had severe damage to, or lost, their homes.  Some have also lost their jobs.  Because of catastrophic damage along the panhandle, it will take weeks, months or even years for some areas to recover.  Some may be beyond repair.

Sadly, lives have been lost too.  And, both major hospitals in Panama City, Bay Medical Sacred Heart and Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center have evacuated patients due to heavy damage from Hurricane Michael.  Bay Medical Sacred Heart did just announce that their Beach ER will be open 24/7!

As we’ve been watching from our vantage point, 1000 miles away, even at this distance, we can’t help but be touched by the spirit and resilience of the panhandle’s people.

A Facebook poster may have put it best when she shared this and we’d like to share it with you.

If you wonder why we’ve gone out of our way to make the panhandle a part of our lives for years, that pretty much sums it up.  Steve’s Dad once said that he “came for the weather and stayed for the people.”

Us, too.


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Here’s What We Know, So Far

As we write this, we’re doing our best to get what news we can about the aftermath of Hurricane Michael and its impact on our extended family and friends.  Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is still closed, so we’re not sure if we’ll be able to fly into Panama City Beach this weekend or not.

A police officer tells us that the 3 story pine tree in our front yard is down but it fell AWAY from our house, not on it. The tree is resting on the power lines. No one has gotten close enough to thoroughly check our house but, the roof and windows appeared to be intact. No power & no water.

Johnnie’s Dad’s condo across the street from the beach has miraculously come thru without damage. He didn’t even lose power! Johnnie finally spoke to him today and he is fine. He stayed in Panama City Beach, but inland with friends who have a generator. That’s all we know at this point.

Sat. we will decide if we are able to fly down Sun. morning. We’ve had our tickets for months and were originally ticketed for last Sun, the 7th, but we re-booked because it was so hot! When we re-booked there was no talk of a storm. Talk about timing!

Our little corners of the gulf appear to have fared far better than many.

As stressed as we’ve been the past couple days just watching this horrible, historic event devastate the panhandle, our stress is nothing compared to people in areas east of Panama City Beach like Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, Callaway, Panama City and others who found themselves getting a much more direct hit from Michael.  Our prayers are with them.

Thank you, so much, for your concern.  Your prayers were and are appreciated!

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Hurricane Michael Update

As we write this, it’s Wednesday, Oct. 10 and we’re in still in Chicago, but our hearts are in Panama City Beach.

There has NEVER been a hurricane like Michael that has hit the panhandle.

We’re just hours away from landfall.  Local media has been doing an excellent job of covering this hurricane.  As we said in a previous post, we’ll do our best to provide updates on this blog and our other social media sites.  Here are a couple of links to the local TV stations we’ve been watching.

Here is a link to the live stream from WJHG-TV in Panama City Beach.

Here is a link to WMBB-TV, in Panama City.

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Tuesday Morning With Nick!

We usually have a great time at WGN radio and Tuesday morning hanging out on the Nick Digilio show was no exception!

Johnnie, Nick Digilio and Steve

In case you missed it, or if you’d like to hear it again, the complete show’s podcast is now available. To hear it, just click on this link.

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Hurricane Michael

At the moment, we’re in Chicago but, assuming we can, we’re scheduled to fly in to our second home, in Panama City Beach, this coming Sunday. Over the past several hours, our focus, thoughts and prayers have increasingly shifted to our extended family, friends and neighbors on Florida’s Gulf coast.

Hurricane Michael has morphed from a tropical storm to what Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, has described as “a massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state.”  Unfortunately, landfall is looking more and more like it’s going to be on Florida’s Gulf Coast and specifically, Panama City Beach.

As we write this, the latest predictions are for Michael to hit with strength similar to Hurricane Opal.  Trust us, this is not good.  We viewed, first hand, the devastation Opal left and we hope to never see its like again.

Some of you have visited Panama City Beach or have friends and relatives in the area.  And, some of you, have been nice enough to express your concern for us and our “Little Yellow House.”  Thank you!  Point is, a lot of you are paying attention to Michael and what impact he may have over the next couple of days.  We’ll do our best to provide updates on this blog and our other social media sites.

For now, thanks to the I Love Panama City Beach Facebook group, here are links to webcams on PCB:

They are in alphabetical order.

Adventures At Sea

Barefoot on the Beach

By the Sea Beach Cams


Dunes of Panama

Emerald View Resorts

Grand Panama Beach Resort

Gulf Crest

Holiday Inn Beach

Holiday Inn Beach Sunset

Pineapple Willy’s

Runaway Island

Sandpiper Beacon




Spinnakers Beach Club

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We’re Hangin’ With Nick Digilio Tuesday Morning!

We are waaay overdue for spending some time hanging out together in the early morning hours at WGN Radio on The Nick Digilio Show! So, tonight (Actually, Tuesday morning, Sept. 9, at 1:15) Nick has invited us to stop by.

Johnnie & Steve with Nick Digilio

Hope you’ll join us.

Remember, if you’re not in the Chicago area, you can still listen in.  Just click on this link to WGN Radio’s live stream.

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Lee Is A Finalist!

I (Steve) previously posted a “Blatant Plug” for my brother, Lee’s book, “Safe Inside.” 

Just click on the link above to read what I wrote.  Trust me, not just because he’s my brother, it’s a GREAT book!

Well, Johnnie and I are incredibly proud to share the news that Lee’s book has just been announced as one of the finalists for the Chicago Writers Association‘s 2018 Book of the Year Awards.

Chicago Writers Association’s 2018 Book of the Year Awards Finalists List

If you don’t have your copy yet and you’d like to read what all the excitement is about, just click on this link.

Now, here’s hoping he’ll still take our calls.

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