PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — A small village of the forgotten has popped up in Diahnn “Shelly” Summers’ backyard outside Panama City. Where there once was empty grass abutting almost 5 acres (2 hectares) of woods, 10 tents now encircle a fir tree with Christmas lights. The tents shelter those still homeless more than four months after Hurricane Michael screamed ashore with 155-mph (250-kph) winds, flattening, blowing away or rendering uninhabitable thousands of houses. “There is nowhere for them to go,” Summers said. “When you don’t have a home, you have no sense of safety, no sense of belonging, no security. You don’t even know where you’re going to sleep without getting into trouble. It’s the worst feeling.” Of all the Florida Panhandle areas affected by Michael, Bay County was hardest hit: Officials said almost three-quarters of its 68,000 households were affected. Former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense, who is leading a hurricane recovery initiative, estimated about 20,000 people were homeless in the weeks after the October storm. Some have been able to make their homes livable again with cosmetic repairs. Others left town: The county’s student population is down 14 percent. And 7,800 residents are still considered homeless, county… Read full this story
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