Walking around her unit and trying to salvage whatever she could, TJ Evans is just thankful to be alive.
Evans, who lives in a triplex at Huff Street and Thomas Drive on Panama City Beach, was busy picking up the pieces on Wednesday morning after the monster storm blew through early Tuesday morning.
“I heard the freight train at 5:30 and got out of bed and went in there,” she said, pointing to the bathroom in the other room.
“I got in there and started praying,” Evans said.
Evans, who is originally from Kansas, moved to Panama City Beach five years ago and has been in the unit a block from the beach the past two years.
“I’m a little desensitized because our parents used to alarm us because we lived in tornado alley,” Evans said, noting she thought it ironic she finally experienced one in Florida.
Evans was showing her landlord and owner of the unit, Diana Dipietro, some of the damage Wednesday morning.
“I’ve got a skylight now,” she said pointing to a big hole in the roof. “I can’t believe we’re still alive.”
She said that right after the first wave of the storms blew through, Fire Chief Ray Morgan came and got her and took her to Treasure Island.
“I saw them take a lady out of the rubble and bring her into where we were staying,” she said.
“Fire Chief Morgan really had everything organized,” she said.
Evans said they stayed in the lobby at Treasure Island until after the second round of storms. Then came back over to the unit.
“It was so flooded,” she said, noting she slipped on the sidewalk at one point and scraped her knee.
“There are no words … I can’t believe I’m standing here,” she said from the deck outside her unit.
Tuesday night, Dipietro put her up in another unit she had available.
“I’ve got the best landlord. She offered me a home … because I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Evans said.
“We slept on an air mattress. It had power and water and we were fine. I’m very thankful,” she said.
“I’ve got good people in my life. My circle is small, but it’s quality people.
“Today, I’m just trying to salvage what I have. But I have my life and my family to look forward to. This too shall pass. God is good,” Evans said.