Apalachicola was only about 39 miles from the center of hurricane Michael. Michael was a fairly compact, but highly destructive category 5 hurricane. Catastrophic winds were not felt far from the center but the “normal” wind speeds of up to category 3 were felt much farther out. The east side of any hurricane (in the northern hemisphere) is always the worst for a couple of reasons. One is the counterclockwise wind speed is added on top of the forward motion of the storm adding an additional 5-20 mph to any reported wind speeds.
The second, and probably most destructive, aspect of the east side of the storm is the storm surge. The increased winds push walls of water on shore which add to the destructive power of the storm causing extensive flooding and other water damage. Look at Mexico Beach, about 20-25 miles farther west from Apalachicola and just outside of the eye of the hurricane. This little community was nearly wiped off the map, literally. There was at least one beach-side house that was located about a mile from the coast because the storm surge pushed it that far inland. Whole neighborhoods were completely demolished with the only thing remaining being debris and the concrete slabs where houses once stood. To this day, over 11 months after the storm, there are no gas stations or grocery stores in this little town and one whole section of the highway is still missing.
Apalachicola didn’t have nearly the damage of Mexico Beach and is recovering much faster. While there was some serious damage in the area and along the bay, life has come close to returning to normal. Several of the bay-side buildings and restaurants are still not open yet but are being worked on. A lot of the fishing fleet was farther back in the bay and seemed to be more protected from the winds and high water problems associated with the storm. The photo above shows one of the main area where a lot of the fishing vessels are docked.