Tropical Storm Nestor washed out about 700 feet of Alligator Point Road in Franklin County early Saturday morning. For much of the rest of the Panhandle, the storm helped ease persistent drought conditions with significant rainfall.
PANAMA CITY — Tropical Storm Nestor washed away a Franklin County road, but otherwise mainly brought needed rain to the drought-stricken Panhandle Saturday morning.
According to Franklin County Emergency Management, the storm destroyed between 500 feet and 700 feet of Alligator Point Road — the only access point about 300 residences have to the rest of the county. But other than a few temporarily-flooded roads, counties farther west, including Bay County, only got a solid dose of rainfall to help quench the drought the Panhandle’s been under the last few months, officials say.
Pamela Brownell, director of Franklin County Emergency Management, said crews would work on removing the shattered remains of the road Saturday and Sunday before adding new asphalt. Until then, residents in the area are basically stuck, Brownell said.
“It’s one way in, one way out,” she said.
Brownell noted the road was already in a less than ideal state before the storm hit because of last year’s Hurricane Michael.
“It was just a temporary road we fixed after Michael,” Brownell said.
Unlike Michael, Nestor weakened as it approached the coast, which reduced concern and preparation among Bay County officials. Based on the available data and firsthand accounts, the storm was mainly beneficial for Bay.
According to the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, the storm had dropped 2 inches of rain in parts of the county by 7 a.m. on Saturday. The NWS had predicted the storm would generate between 2 inches and 4 inches of rainfall for the area.
“The rainfall has been very beneficial since we’ve been experiencing a drought for some time,” said Israel Gonzalez, meteorologist with the NWS in Tallahassee.
Bay County and much of the Panhandle have been under moderate drought conditions for the last couple of months. In fact, the drought helped prevent the Nestor from causing any flooding, Gonzalez said.
“Because we’ve been under a drought for so long, the ground can take up a lot of water,” he said.
Frankie Lumm with Bay County Emergency Management, said the storm caused some power outages Friday night, but little else.
“We did have wind gusts we recorded throughout the county of between 25 and 35 mph during the evening, but nothing substantial,” Lumm said. “Because the winds were not that high, that allowed people to stay on the roads and for Gulf Power to fix the outages.”
Lumm noted that a handful of residents did come Friday night to the Dean Bozeman School in Panama City, which the county had opened as a temporary shelter.
In Mexico Beach, which was ravaged by Hurricane Michael and is still struggling to recover more than a year later, residents appeared undisturbed by the latest tropical storm on Saturday.
“We got some high winds last night, shook the storm shutters a little bit but nothing too serious,” Davis McGee of Mexico Beach said Saturday morning as he stared out at the Gulf.
McGee said he planned to surf the larger, storm-generated waves later that day.
“The winds are going to switch in about two hours, so I’m going to try and jump on it pretty quick,” he said.
Chad Taylor said he and his wife came down from Marianna to their Mexico Beach house to watch the storm.
“I’ll tell you what, my wife likes storms … said she’s been coming down here since she was like 121, so it’s fun to see it,” Taylor said.
Photographer Joshua Boucher contributed to this article.