Midway fire station reopens after Hurricane Michael recovery
By Gabriella Mercurio,2023-05-26
It's been nearly five years since Hurricane Michael forced the main fire station in Midway to be closed. On Monday, April 24 those doors are open once again.
When Hurricane Michael tore through the Big Bend and Panhandle, it left behind more than $20 billion of damage.
Some of that damage can still be seen in communities like Gadsden county, still working to get things back to how they were before the storm.
Having the main fire station back open will increase response times, help keep the city running during severe weather and provide fresh foods for community members in need.
"Today is a milestone for the City of Midway."
It's been nearly five years since Hurricane Michael closed down Fire Station One in Midway. Now, a new stations sits where the other once stood.
Those nearly 100 mile per hour winds locally and severe water damage impacted the fire station so severely it had to be gutted.
Fire Chief Nathaniel Yarusso said renovating the building to get it functional again was not an easy feat.
"My awesome firefighters spent countless hours and weekends and nights redoing the floors, our walls, our ceilings, we repainted the entire place," said Yarusso. "It was really a all hands on deck to make this happen."
Along with FEMA funding, the Midway City Council granted almost $100,000 to get the station up and running again. Something council member Nandycka Kingalbert said has been long overdue.
"There was a time it was a struggle for Midway to house Emergency Management," said Kingablert. "This is the first time, in a long time, that Midway has adequately been able to house Emergency Management."
Since Michael, Yarusso said they've been operating out of fire station two over a mile away, causing slower response times. With station one back open, crews will be able to get to scenes quicker.
"Station One is the nearest to the interstate and Highway 90. A majority of our call volume is car crashes," said Yarusso. "This puts us closer to both those locations so this is going to improve our response times ten fold to some of these incidents."
In addition to increased response times, the addition of new generators is expected to keep the city going during times of severe weather.
"In the event that there is power outage, we can still run the city and make sure that we have the necessary combinations to meet the needs of the community and that is something that Midway has never had," said Kingablert.
Another benefit to reopening station one, addressing food insecurity issues.
Hope Harvest will work with the city of Midway to keep a refrigerator stocked with fresh food available to families to pick up when they need it at no cost.
This fire station also has a pretty cool history. It was built in 1987 and since then has also served as a temporary city hall and police station.