This is Week 3 of  book tour. One of my recent stops included Panama City, FL–a place I always love to visit. This time though, it was a sobering arrival. I was struck by the devastation of the trees and so many houses.

It looked like someone took a chainsaw to the top of the beautiful oaks. Huge swaths of pine trees were toppled like snapped twigs.

Houses were covered in tarp, and many more were evacuated and stood waiting to be demolished.

All of the photos I’m sharing with you are my own. This is the scene 8 months post Hurricane Michael’s category 5 hit last October!

The people have suffered. Despite their losses, I was also struck by the optimism of the citizens who love their city.

They hope to rebuild. Though they know it will take a very long time for the trees to return.

Sadly, in neighboring Mexico Beach, there’s nothing much left to save. The people have left. There are no construction workers to rebuild. It was a ghost town.

Panama City has a long way to go and they need our help! Like many of you, I’m wondering, “What can I do to help?

I learned that if you donate to the United Way of Northwest Florida, 100% of the funds will go to hurricane victims there. I made a financial contribution, and I want to do more by spreading the news to you, my dear readers. Please make any donation you feel comfortable offering. This is a simple way we can each “Light One Candle” for the people of Panama City.

For anyone who gives $50 or more, I will mail to you a hardcover copy of The Summer Guests as a thank you for your donation. My new novel is about hurricane evacuation and it seems appropriate.

To receive your book, please send my assistant ([email protected]) an email with your mailing address and proof of donation–a simple screenshot of your receipt is all I need. This offer is available to you through the Atlantic hurricane season, which ends November 30th.

Stay strong, Panama City! We love you!


  1. Margaret Liebermann on June 26, 2019 at 11:52 am

    This is a wonderful idea. Thank you for your generosity. Spending my winter on Saint George Island, I was devastated by the damage in nearby areas. My landmarks were destroyed as well as the lives of many. Have you visited the bookstore in Apalachicola? It is a gem in that small area. Books, yarn and pets exist harmoniously together. 😊

    • Mary Alice Monroe on June 26, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      It’s heartbreaking to have the things you love wiped away by storms. And worse, when it claims someone’s life. Fingers crossed that this hurricane season stays calm. But, always be ready… just in case.

      And thank you for the tip! That sounds like my kind of bookstore! I’ll have to check it out when I’m in Apalachicola next time. Thank you, Margaret.

  2. Debbie Ridge on June 26, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Thank you so much for your generosity to our home town! Loved getting to meet you and listen to you while you were in Panama City. By the way, i’m Loving the new book “The Summer Guests”.

    • Mary Alice Monroe on July 1, 2019 at 3:38 pm

      I’m so glad you attended the book tour event. Thank you for your support! And I’m so glad you’re enjoying “The Summer Guests”! Stay strong!

  3. Patricia Ellin on June 26, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    This is a wonderful idea and you are a wonderful person.

    • Mary Alice Monroe on July 1, 2019 at 3:38 pm

      Patricia, thank you for those kind words. I’m surrounded by so many big-hearted, generous people! Together, we hope to make a positive difference for Panama City!

  4. Ruth Corley on June 26, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    Thank you so much for helping in our recovery. We have pretty much been forgotten or ignored by the rest of the country. With damaged homes, or living in temporary trailers, we now face another hurricane season. We are a resilient people in the Panhandle–strong in our faith! But even the strongest of us can get tired after a long struggle. I found reading your post so encouraging. Thank you, again. And please come back one day!

    • Mary Alice Monroe on July 1, 2019 at 3:37 pm

      I was dismayed to see the destruction all these months later. But, I was awestruck by the strong hope and faith pulsing through your community. Don’t lose sight of that. And, I will definitely be back to Panama City.

  5. Suzanne Patterson on June 27, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Thank You. Your heart is so beautiful.

    My home still has a blue tarp on it, its edges weather worn and shredded into strings that sway in the breeze like streamers at an outdoor party. Pecan wood now sits piled up against the workshop in the backyard, near the very spot where once that mighty, beautiful tree used to provide shade that covered half my back yard. A camper fills the spot now because my home – though outwardly okay in appearance – has mold inside, cracked walls, sagging ceilings, unlivable conditions.

    And yet hope prevails. Hope that the trees lining the woods across the street will one day flourish again, that our community will come back stronger than ever before, that the walls in this home I grew up in will still whisper the stories of my family even as they are tore down and replaced.

    Thank you for your contribution, and for sharing our stories.

    • Mary Alice Monroe on July 1, 2019 at 3:35 pm

      Such vivid and powerful words. Thank you for sharing your heart. May the generous donations of many be blessed and multiplied to help you and so many others still living on hope to rebuild and move forward from the hurricane devastation.

Leave a Comment