On October 10, 2018, Jackson County experienced the unimaginable.  Hurricane Michael made landfall 55 miles south of us in the small fishing community of Mexico Beach as a historic Category 5 Hurricane.  The devastation was felt far and wide, and seven months later, we are all still recovering.

While we were much further inland, we still took a direct hit from the storm.  Typically, a hurricane drastically loses strength and pressure once making landfall.  Last October, this was not the case.  Hurricane Michael stayed strong as it barreled across the rural Florida Panhandle, destroying thousands of acres of land and our small communities along the way.

When the eyewall passed over Marianna, the storm was still measured as a Category 4 with wind speeds recorded well over 130 mph.  A storm of this size and magnitude was something we wouldn’t ever dream of impacting Jackson County.  On October 11, we were all able to see the devastation to our perfect piece of Florida and start piecing to0gether ideas of how to rebuild.

Progress has been slow, but it has been made.  Our streets are mostly cleared of debris.  Many of our locally owned businesses have reopened to the public. Our restaurants have been able to serve the masses of people that have flooded our towns to help us rebuild. And our natural assets have started to be cleaned up.

With this progress, we’ve come to accept the fact that we will be looking at a “New Normal” for far much longer than we had anticipated.  At this time, seven months after the storm, we are still far from where we want to be. Our natural assets will likely never be the same, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy them just as much.  As of May 10, 2019, Three Rivers State Park has reopened for day use, the Chipola River and Spring Creek have been cleared of debris for boaters and floaters to enjoy, Merritt’s Mill Pond has been welcoming back guests for paddling, fishing, and cave diving for many months, and Lake Seminole, the Chattahoochee River, and the Apalachicola River are still fishing hotspots for our anglers. 

Our hiking and biking trails are facing a different story.  With the powerful winds came destruction to our forests.  Not a single trail has been spared in Jackson County, and with most on state and federal land, clean-up efforts will take time. 

This changing landscape brings new opportunities for our visitors.  Instead of hiking a trail, take a scenic drive to explore our Spanish Heritage Trail. Take the family to visit a few of our farms on our AgriTourism Trail.  Stop in and shop at any of our local stores and boutiques. Grab a bite to eat at one of our delicious restaurants.  Explore the history of Jackson County along our upcoming Historic Marker Trail. Get out and explore something different.  Jackson County is full of so many unique opportunities, we are sure you’ll find something new to experience time and time again.

As time progresses, we will keep our website updated with new openings, events, and things to do.  We welcome you back into Jackson County and encourage you to explore our “New Normal”.  For more information on individual openings and closures, please contact us at (850) 482-8061 or by emailing us at [email protected].