Chattanooga attorney Russell King, along with nephew Lebron Lackey, a Cleveland, Tn., radiologist, had built their dream beach house at a tiny Gulf village called Mexico Beach.
When Hurricane Michael roared in last week it first bore in on little Mexico Beach with all its wrath. But, amazingly, the "Sand Palace" still stands.
The story has been heralded on the New York Times, the Orlando Sentinel, CNN and others - the house that was so staunchly built that it even defied the most fierce storm the Gulf Coast has even seen.
Attorney King said, "CNN interviewed us and the New York Times has been all through the house; so has CNN, CNN International, weather channel.
etc. There are four or five satellite trucks on my street.
"This sweet community is destroyed. It's hard to believe. It looks like Hiroshima."
The upscale beach house had been built with concrete and steel innards so that it was designed to withstand winds as high as 250 miles per hour. The roof was built snug so that it could not easily be lifted off, and the four-bedroom home was on stilts so the storm tide would not be damaging. The ground-level staircase was designed to tear away in such a storm.
Attorney King watched the gathering storm with alarm, then heard the reports about the devastation of the quaint town. As soon as it passed, he got into his pickup and headed south, finally picking his way to where the Sand Palace still stood.
Since then he has barely been able to correspond with office and friends in Chattanooga. Cell service is in and out. The person who oversees the Sand Palace for the owners said, "When he has had service, he has had a flood of messages and he is not able to respond."
Still there was this damage to the Sand Palace:
Ground floor gone, of course-privacy/pavers/shower/stuff/concrete driveway/entry way.
Stairs gone all the way to the middle floor!
Windows out in St. Joe bedroom and top floor shower.
Top sliding doors let water in.
Middle floor ceiling has damage from the water. Probably more water damage too.
Side porch ceiling gone on middle floor.
All utilities will have to be redone.
Heating and air units - one gone, one hanging.
In the days since the storm, the Sand Palace has become "somewhat of a staging area for news and search and rescue and relief workers."
The manager said, "We feel blessed to be able to provide any shelter possible to these volunteers."