Editors Note: Third in a four-part series on the devastation Hurricane Michael wrought on the Mexico Beach, Fla., community, which is frequented by many southwest Georgians.
MEXICO BEACH, Fla. Slow and easy, sun and sand, food and friends, family and memories ... these are the things the Mexico Beach community has always offered visitors to its little piece of paradise.
I live in paradise, why would I need a vacation? one local said, and she meant that statement.
The members of the local community are the faces visitors remember year after year as they join their family and friends to vacation and make beautiful memories. Familiarity makes a vacation more like a homecoming as families gather to enjoy time together at the quaint beach community that they visit year after year. People have always looked forward to revisiting their favorite places operated by their favorite locals.
Many kicked off their annual vacation by staying at the El Governor motel; their great stay usually started by a friendly greeting and chat with Wiley at check-in. Others stayed year after year with the Wood family at The Driftwood Inn or were married in their small, beautiful chapel and became a part of their unique place on the beach. Days could be spent at the beach, fishing on the pier, or enjoying a game of air hockey or pool at Tommy Ts. Nate and his friendly staff at Mexico Beach Marina offered everything needed for fishing.
Stocking up for the stay required a visit to Gulf Foods and a visit with the friendly and helpful owner Lance and his staff and a quick grab from that deli (where Niece prepared her yummy food).
Meals could be enjoyed in many ways during a stay in Mexico Beach. The Hunter family at The Shell Shack offered many varieties of fresh or steamed fish and seafood, most of it Gulf-caught, and who could forget that delicious smoked fish dip? Michael and Hal, the guys at Killer Seafood, offered a menu that included supreme culinary happiness. Fish tacos and bread bowls filled with steaming goodness in Killer Seafoods own simmering sauce were just a few of the tourist and local favorites.
Mango Marleys homemade chips and freshly made sandwiches and seafood items always made hungry travelers happy. Another community standard for excellent seafood and steaks (and an excellent weekend breakfast) was The Fish House; always an enjoyable experience. Last to be discussed but always first for local flavor both in food and conversation was Sharons Cafe, enjoyed by all who visited.
Everyone shopped for things to take home as treasures to remind them of the time spent on vacation. The Shell Shack always had unique natural shells, artistic creations and local souvenirs that made both adults and children smile. Mayor Catheys Ace Hardware was a hardware store plus a great place to find unique gifts and keepsakes from a vacation. Mexico Beach Marina offered coolers, clothes and outdoor supplies to enjoy.
For decades each visit to Mexico Beach was unique, but the same. Familiar faces and places of the community made time spent there even more enjoyable. On Oct. 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael either damaged or completely destroyed all the businesses mentioned above.
That hurricane, however, did not destroy the fine business people of this community. Many of them are already back in business in some capacity and others are in progress. Mango Marleys Outpost is operating out of a food truck and a military tent and has been serving up delicious food since shortly after the hurricane. Catheys Ace Hardware is open and supplying those working hard to repair and rebuild.
The Killer Seafood mobile unit is ready to go and will be serving soon. Mexico Beach Marina has recently reopened and welcomes everyone to stop and shop. The Hunter family at The Shell Shack is hard at work on the rebuild and will be back in action soon.
Everyone in the Mexico Beach community is recovering, repairing and rebuilding as best they are able. A lot goes into recovering from total destruction and devastation. Each component of this unique community handles each step forward differently. Some businesses sadly will not rebuild and they will be missed.
Huge progress has been made in the year that has passed since Hurricane Michael and will continue for years to come. Mexico Beach will forever be changed. But the people of this small, quaint community strive to rebuild and recover while preserving the individuality of their town.
The rest is here:
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