Hurricane Michael evacuees flock to Central Alabama for refuge

    (Patrick Thomas |

    Many people along the Gulf Coast are leaving their communities behind and relocating in Central Alabama because of Hurricane Michael.

    Some Gulf Coasters are filling up an RV lot near the Hoover Metropolitan Complex for a few days. Others are renting homes from Airbnb or VRBO, typically a travel destination for vacations website, 30 minutes outside of Birmingham in Saint Clair County.

    ABC 33/40 talked to members of two families who say they are from Panama City. Both hope they have something to return home to once they leave Alabama.

    Less than 12 hours after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Panama City, all many can do is fear the unknown.

    Nate Starr, who evacuated 15 other family members, including eight children, and three pets, is temporarily staying in a home his family rented in Odenville.

    Nate told ABC 33/40, "Right now we don't know if we have a house that's standing. [We] got here (to Odenville) about 12:30 in the morning today and we are just glad to get here."

    His father, Gary Starr, sat on the porch with his son Wednesday afternoon to discuss the destruction. Gary says he has seen a lot of bad weather but this may top it all.

    Gary says, "We were around with Opal, We've seen Ivan, We saw Katrina brush by...but this is probably the worst that you can see."

    Nate further reiterated his father's sentiments and how bad life may be when they travel back to the coast.

    "Do I have a bed and a roof to sleep under right now? I don't know," says Nate.

    Both say 2018 has been tough on everyone in their family. Nate says his mother and another relative died this year.

    Now, the devastation of Michael could leave them with even more losses.

    "My greatest fear right now is just looking at the future. How long, what, when, and where, is it going to take us to get back to where things were?"

    Home is now a Hoover parking lot for Bill and Penny Halsell who drove up with a small RV while leaving behind a bed and breakfast business located on the water.

    Paul says, "We are talking about some of the biggest buildings in Panama City are flattened."

    His wife Penny says their RV will become the place where they lie their heads at night.

    "If that actually happened, this is our home. And if we just have a big empty lot we will rebuild tiny houses," she says.

    The Halsells say they want to leave the Hoover RV lot to return home on Thursday.

    Nate Starr, and his family of 16 plan to leave Friday.

    News In Photos

      Loading ...