Hurricane update from Brian Haddad
October 17, 2018
First off, let me thank you from everyone in our area for the outpouring of love and support we have received from so many of you during the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Members of the Panama City Swim Team and Seals Swim Club are very appreciative of everything. Special shout out to our friends at Coast Aquatics who packed a van of supplies at the Swim Meet last weekend and sent it to us. These supplies have been distributed to PCST and SEALS families who are desperately in need.
As you can imagine, with a lot of the communication grid being down, it has taken us a while to connect with everyone but it appears that all of our members are safe and free of major injury. There is however significant property damage and some families have lost most if not all of their possessions.
I know many of you have been asking how you can help. We are going to set up a few things that should provide the help our people need.
1) While the supplies coming to our area in general have been massive, that does tend to wane as time goes on. I am sure that in the weeks to come we will still be able to use the basic essentials such as water, food, cleaning products, clothing, etc...
2) Many kids have lost all of their swim gear. We have a few teams who have already gathered many items to send to us but I'm sure we can always use suits, goggles, caps, etc...
3) PCST will be setting up a GoFundMe page very shortly where people can "sponsor a swimmer". It is our hope that no one has to stop swimming due to this storm as it is a very important activity to the kids. PCST is suspending dues for its members for a while and these funds will help to keep the staff paid and rent paid in the short term. Long term as many families get back on their feet, these funds can be used to continue to support those remaining families who have lost jobs, and whose climb back up is more difficult. I will send info about this page out as soon as it is completed (hopefully within 24 hours).
General updates for our area:
1) Water and Power have been restored to Panama City Beach. Panama City, Lynn Haven, and the other cities on the east side of the area hope to have some water this week and power by mid-next week. Fortunately, Gulf Power has been amazing and has beaten every estimate so far.
2) Communication is getting better. Verizon is a pretty nasty word down here right now but it appears that they are staring to get some mobile towers up. AT&T and T-Mobile customers have service. We are trying to get people opportunities to make contact with friends and loved ones each day through phone or internet until it is fully restored.
3) Food and water seem to be getting around to people pretty well right now but clothing is the thing we are starting to hear that many people will need. We also hear that some of the kids have lost toys, etc...
4) Pools: The main pool at Frank Brown Park lost the scoreboard but is otherwise undamaged. We hope to resume activities there next week. The pools in town sustained some damage but the major problem in getting them going will be power and water. I am guessing that it will be at least November before anything starts happening there.
5) Many of the swimmers have been able to relocate to other areas in the short term. Thanks to those of you who have been hosting our swimmers at practices this last week.
Again, thank you from all of us for your thoughts and prayers. It was a terrible ordeal but we are coming through it. If anyone would like to contact me regarding help for PCST and SEALS, you can e-mail me at email@example.com or call me at 615-293-7333. I have constant service. We hope to see you at meets in the near future.
Panama City Swim Team