Keaton Beach residents say they work together and play together, now they’ll recover together

by WFSU Public Media

At Keaton Beach where Hurricane Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 storm about a week ago, recovery is ongoing and getting back to normal is something community members say they’ll do together.

On a typical holiday weekend towels and umbrellas dot the sand along Keaton Beach. Kids splash in the surf and some of the more industrious revelers might search for scallops. But this Labor Day weekend palm fronds, seaweed and mucky debris cover much of the shore—even coating the floor of the public bathroom. Beyond the rumble of a few generators, the beach itself is mostly quiet.

debris lines the floor of a brightly colored bathroom

But down the block from the beach, a group of neighbors is gathering near Shannon Millinor’s pink house.

“A little thing called Idalia came up and kind of ruined the holiday weekend,” Millinor says, “but we’re celebrating it.”

Millinor is organizing a neighborhood fish fry. He’s cooking up snapper, grouper, and hogfish. There’s a pallet of water, coolers with cold beer and plenty of sides. Millinor says after days of neighbors helping neighbors, its time for a bit of fun.

“Everybody has been cleaning up the trash and debris from their houses and we decided for the community around here at Keaton Beach that we would have a fish fry.”

crews in a bucket truck work to fix a damaged roof on a house at Keaton Beach

Millinor says his house suffered a small amount of damage and quite a bit of mud. Others took a harder hit, but overall he says many expected the damage at the beach to be worse.

“All these little beaches around here took it like a champ. They done good,” Millinor says.

Even so, there’s plenty of work left to do before Keaton Beach will feel like it’s back to normal. Millinor says he’s confident his tight knit community can do it—together.

“Just everybody sticking together and taking care of other people,” Millinor says. “Like I say, everybody down here has pitched in and taken care of each other when they can and that’s what makes stuff happen.”

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