MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Last week, thousands of evacuees fled to Alabama ahead of Hurricane Michael; however, there were many residents along the Gulf Coast who decided to ride out the storm.
Panama City resident Mike Cox waited too long to evacuate. Cox is originally from Prattville, but moved to Panama City six years ago.
Cox said the reason he didn’t evacuate was because he didn’t think the hurricane would strengthen before it made landfall. By the time he realized how powerful the storm had become, it was too late.
“By the time it turned into a Category 4 and made that turn to the west, we had no way to leave. I mean, we just rode it out,” Cox said.
Cox hunkered down in his living room.
“I didn’t have any service. I knew nothing about anything that was going on in the outside world. I had no communication, no nothing," said Cox.
He had no way to communicate with his family in Prattville.
“I had 130 calls, 250 text messages, and I haven’t even looked at Facebook,” Cox said.
When the bridges opened back up and it was safe for him to drive, Cox made his way to Prattville.
“You get disoriented. You don’t even know where you’re at, and you can’t even tell where you are. Until I got to Bonifay, that’s when I actually finally really realized just how bad the storm was," said Cox.
He called it a blessing that his home didn’t sustain any damage, and said that he wishes he would have evacuated when he had the chance.
“If they ever issue a mandatory evacuation, get out, because I thought I was going to be tough and stick it out and it’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through," said Cox.
He plans on heading back to Panama City Monday.