“My goal was to convey the bittersweet beauty of the abandoned buildings that still lie in Hurricane Michael's wake in hopes of drawing attention to the struggle that the people of the panhandle are still dealing with.”
These are the words of Kim Hill, author of Abandoned After the Storm: Hurricane Michael, a book filled with photos of the haunting but sometimes tragically-beautiful buildings and homes that remain in disrepair in Panama City, Mexico Beach, and the surrounding area after Hurricane Michael ripped a swath through the area in October, 2018. When one of our attorneys at Taylor, Warren, Weidner & Hancock came across Hill's book, the firm decided to interview author Hill so we could share her personal experience riding out Hurricane Michael in her house in Panama City and her motive in capturing and sharing the abandoned destruction that remains.
Hill's History With Storms in the Florida Panhandle
“I love storms,” Hill explained. “The beauty of them anyway. As a Florida native, I've always been captivated by shelf clouds and big, brewing summer storms. I would usually whip out my camera to take a photo or clumsy video. All other times, however, I was never frightened. My family and I rode out Hurricane Opal in our home, and I distinctly remember a neighbor walking over in the rain in the middle of the storm to borrow some aspirin. Every storm I had ever experienced in the past made no comparison to Michael.”
Hill's Experience During Hurricane Michael
Overnight, Michael went from a Cat 1 to a Cat 4 bearing right down on us. By then, it was too late to evacuate quickly or safely. While I would usually try to take photos or videos, I was too scared to even look out the windows. Instead I laid with my dogs on my bed and prayed. Putting my hand on the walls of our house, I swear I could feel them ‘breathe.'”
Hill shared with us her personal experience in having to evacuate her home for two months after the storm due to the damage. “I had never even left my home for two months on a vacation,” Hill said. “It was weird and awful being gone that long. But, we were lucky. I joined a few Facebook groups, such as 850Strong and Hurricane Recovery for the Florida Panhandle that offered resources about steps we could to take after the storm to get back on our feet more quickly.” After receiving an astonishingly low offer from her insurance company, Kim Hill decided to hire a public adjuster to prepare a more detailed estimate of her damage.
Hill's Advice to Utilize All Resources When Recovering From a Hurricane
“One of the goals I had in creating this book and sharing the story of those who are still facing the damage in Panama City was to make sure people knew they have more resources they can turn to. They do not have to accept the first offer the insurance company makes without looking for a second opinion or help. There are far more resources out there today than there were in the years past. I know we would not have reached the settlement we did and got our home repaired as quickly had we not sought the help of a public adjuster. I hope my book helps share the story of those who suffered and lost so much as a result of Hurricane Michael and gives those living in the aftermath and ruin hope that the rebuilding will continue.”
Kim Hill's book is filled with breathtaking photos of the damage caused by Hurricane Michael, both in Panama City and the surrounding area. Kim also included photos from her friend who unfortunately lost his home in Mexico Beach to Hurricane Michael.
We are grateful for the work Hill and the other photographers put into Abandoned After the Storm to share the story of survivors on the panhandle and the struggles they are currently facing.
What To Do If You Are Still Recovering From Hurricane Michael
As we are currently representing many Hurricane Michael victims who are still fighting with their insurance companies over repairs and working to get the full amount they are entitled to in order to fully repair their homes and get back to life as they knew it before Michael, we are proud to share Kim Hill's work and message. We encourage other Hurricane Michael victims out there who are still struggling to follow Hill's advice and seek as many resources as possible—from Facebook groups, to public adjusters, to experienced attorneys—before accepting the insurance company's initial offer. We also offer free, no-cost, no-obligation consultations for any insurance claim review. Please never hesitate to contact us if you have a question about your insurance policy or an insurance claim.
You can purchase a copy of Abandoned After the Storm: Hurricane Michael HERE.
KIM HILL is a freelance writer, website designer, painter, award-winning photographer, and overall Jill-of-all-trades who lives in sunny, and often stormy, Florida. Kim recently had three of her photographs selected for the Clio Art Fair in Chelsea, NYC. She has also contributed to many works highlighting storm damage and recovery, including: In the Eye of the Storm: Stories of Survival and Hope from the Florida Panhandle; Survivors: Work Created in the Wake of Hurricane Michael; In the Aftermath of the Storm: Stories of Hope and Healing; In Laymon's Terms; and Abandoned Northwest Florida. When she's not working, Kim enjoys road trips, movies, and incessant reading way past her bedtime. You can follow Kim Hill's journey and learn more about her storm-related photography and pieces at www.facebook.com/abandonedgulfcoast.