One House Stands Among the Rubble Left by Hurricane Michael


The "Sand Palace" stands among the rubble of Mexico Beach.

Sophia Acuna, Author

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The aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, resembles a post-apocalyptic world; entire homes are reduced to rubble, leaving a barren wasteland out of what was once a gorgeous town. Houses on Mexico Beach are not built to withstand such powerful storms because historically, the Florida Panhandle has not experienced the dangerous hurricanes that the rest of the state has. Many homes are also older, some built in the 1970s, when requirements for what a house should be able to withstand was much lower. Almost every house was completely demolished–save for one that managed to survive Hurricane Michael’s devastation.

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The house, nicknamed the “Sand Palace” by its owners Russell King and Dr. Lebron Lackey, was built to withstand 250 mile-an-hour winds–far above Florida’s building requirements of being able to withstand 120-150 mile-an-hour winds. It was meant to survive the “big one”: built from poured concrete, reinforced using steel cables, and elevated to keep it above seawater. So it’s no wonder why the house managed to stay standing during the category 4 hurricane, especially taking in consideration that many of the houses that perished during the storm did not meet Florida’s building standards. The house still took some minor damage–for example: the siding of a stairway and the stairs themselves were ripped away, there was some water damage, and a shower window had cracked. But compared to the damage done to their neighbors’ houses, which were completely demolished, the “Sand Palace” was left basically untouched.

“We can clean this up in a month,” said King. “But other folks, I don’t know. Look at what these people suffered.”

King hopes that recovery crews from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could benefit from using the Sand Palace.