With Panama City Beach dodging the path of Hurricane Dorian, beachgoers were grateful to be relaxing instead of evacuating.
PANAMA CITY BEACH - With Panama City Beach dodging the path of Hurricane Dorian, tourists enjoyed a hot, sunny Labor Day in the Florida Panhandle vacation spot.
Beachgoers, such as Missouri resident Kaci Johnson, were grateful to relax in front of the Gulf of Mexico instead of having to evacuate. Johnson and her family have been down for several days since her husband and son planned to go alligator hunting.
“We’re just lucky we had this trip planned and that hurricane went the other way,” Johnson said. “We were a little concerned about what we were going to do but we decided we were going to come anyways.”
Dorian wrecked the Bahamas and is projected to create problems along the east coast and central Florida, but doesn't appear to be a threat to Panama City Beach or Northwest Florida.
Bay County is still recovering from Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 hurricane that made landfall in October 2018, though Panama City Beach sustained less damage than Panama City and other surrounding affected areas. The community — familiar with the effects of a devastating storm — has sent prayers and well wishes for those in Dorian's path.
Johnson said she loves coming to the area.
“We’ve been all over Florida within the last 20-30 years and the Gulf side has always been my favorite,” she said.
Other tourists, such as Georgia resident Brandon Dyer, agreed. He has been to Panama City Beach before and wasn’t concerned about being in Dorian's path since the Panhandle was so far west of the storm.
“This year is awesome. It’s always great but the water is super-clear,” Dyer said while relaxing in a beach chair near access point No. 41 on Front Beach Road. “We always love PCB but it kind of got overcrowded for a little while but now I can dig it. We don’t really go anywhere else other than here.”
The Monday weather was sunny, and though the beach around access point No. 41 wasn’t extremely crowded, families and visitors were still hanging out and relaxing. Kids snorkeled, fished and swam. Adults either chatted in the shade under beach umbrellas or sunbathed on the sand.
“There’s everything right here, so you don’t even have to leave. There’s a restaurant and store,” Amanda Ellis said. “We love how the water is so clear. It’s a really good time to be here.”
Married couple Anna and Brandon Hodges came down from Alabama and were at ease as the Labor Day weekend came to an end.
“Today’s great. A lot of people have left today because it’s not nearly as crowded,” Anna Hodges said Monday. “We come down quite a bit. It’s gorgeous. The beaches are gorgeous, the ocean is gorgeous, there’s a lot do.”
Brandon Hodges was initially concerned with how Hurricane Dorian might affect the weekend but stayed safe come Monday.
“It didn’t have the effect we thought it would,” Brandon Hodges said.