When Hurricane Michael roared ashore Oct. 10, it nearly sunk a storied ship that withstood the forces of nature for more than 140 years.
The Governor Stone, as The News Herald's Genevieve Smith reported, was nearly destroyed by the Category 4 storm. The hull is intact, but the ship docked at Florida's St. Andrews Marina was literally in pieces.
"Hurricane Michael capsized the Governor Stone, but like the Burns family in 1906, we will roll her over and rebuild," Friends of the Governor Stone, Inc. wrote on the organization's website, governorstone.org.
The rebuilding process will begin this Saturday at 10 a.m., and the organization is asking for volunteers.
We have no doubt many will show up ready to rebuild the storied ship. Businesses in St. Andrews, Florida, such as Finn's Island Style Grub in Little Village are planning to reopen and rebuild "as soon as we can," owner Justin Buxton told The News Herald's Collin Breaux. "We plan to be a beacon of light and hope."
That is exactly what Tyndall Air Force-based Capt. Ryan Torres and Christina Blair, a nurse at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center in Panama City, Florida, did. As the Northwest Florida Daily News' Jim Thompson reported, the couple had planned to marry at Out of the Blue in Panama City Beach. But the venue was damaged, and vendors hired to provide flowers and other wedding necessities were unable to follow through. Regardless, they along with their "determined" wedding planner, Kelly Henderson, teamed up to cast aside the lack of cellphone coverage, the traffic snarls and all the other obstacles and charge forward with the wedding at a new waterside venue.
"We wanted it to be a beacon of hope," Torres said, adding that they wanted to share with their guests that even in the toughest of circumstances, it is possible to overcome.
"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness," Desmond Tutu, a South African Anglican cleric and anti-apartheid crusader, once said.
That is what this region has demonstrated in the days following the destructive storm, with neighbor helping neighbor, strangers helping strangers and families huddling together to prove they can withstand even the most destructive forces of Mother Nature.
And while much of Bay County, Florida, still remains in darkness at night, crews from across the country have descended here to restore power to tens of thousands, and the end of the darkness is in sight, with Gulf Power set to turn on the lights to the rest by the end of this week.
And like the couple that persevered to make their beach wedding happen, so, too, will Bay County and Northwest Florida, where residents, businesses, organizations and elected officials already have come together to encourage, console and continue the process of rebuilding an even better, stronger and, we hope — no, we know — better Bay County and Northwest Florida.
REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD