Businesses in Panama City neighborhood hit hard by Hurricane Michael

Northwest Florida

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WKRG) — Hurricane Michael destroyed thousands of homes on the Gulf Coast but it also left its mark on businesses in Panama City and surrounding areas. 

The St. Andrew’s community in the city is filled with locally owned businesses. 

One of them is ‘Uncle Earnie’s, a bar and restaurant on the water. 

It’s a place that’s normally a busy hotspot buzzing with life, but the sight of it is causing heartbreak. 

“Got sick to my stomach, heartbroken.” Sean Lyon, the restaurant’s owner, says that was his reaction when he checked out the place after Hurricane Michael hit last week. 

After the category 4 storm made landfall, parts of the 25-year old business are missing while new parts showed up, like the “Gateway Park” sign from across the street. 

“The decks have fallen, the structure is leaning, a lot of mold started,” said Lyon.

News 5 took a tour of the building. Entering the kitchen, you’re hit with a thick smell of seafood that hasn’t been refrigerated in over a week. 

Not to mention, you can see the sky from inside since the roof blew off. 

Despite the damage, Lyon’s concerns are less with the building, and more with the people who make the restaurant a place they know and love.  “I feel for my employees. I’ve already met with contractors. We’ll try and get everyone back to work as soon as we can. Hopefully back to normalcy.”

Across the street from Uncle Earnie’s, also in St. Andrew’s, the owner of ‘Sunjammers Watersports,’ Brad Stephens, says a few smashed bricks and fallen signs aren’t crushing his spirits.  “I’ve cried more this past week from people being nice to me than actual devastation because I don’t feel deserving just like most the people don’t feel deserving of the love that’s being poured in our community. Give us a little while and we’ll be back better than ever and you can come down and keep St. Andrews salty.”

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