A year after Hurricane Michael, Florida communities still trying to recover

Some Floridians, like Kimberly Kennedy and Talia Butcher, lost everything. Other residents, like Shelly Summers who turned her backyard into a shelter have tried to help amid the devastation.
6:26 | 10/11/19

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Transcript for A year after Hurricane Michael, Florida communities still trying to recover
Oh, yeah, the water as all Reporter: Kimberly Kennedy lost almost everything a year ago. There were so many cars in the canal, piles of houses, there were rooftops over there. Reporter: That was the day hurricane Michael made landfall east of Panama City, shredding the panhandle. This is unit 201. This would be the room we stayed in, that we survived the storm in. This is the old deck. Reporter: My team and I were right there. Barricaded against the winds and the rain in a concrete condominium just across the street from that surging gulf of I just saw something I have never seen in real life, I saw an entire home taken off its foundation and rolled down the street. That is the type of storm surge we're talking about. My heart is racing. Reporter: A devastating cat 5, the strongest to make landfall since Andrew in 1992. Mile after mile destroyed. More than 1 million homes without power. 50 floridians lost their lives. And test of thousands lost their homes. We reported inside that eye wall as the storm surge reached 14 It's right under us. Reporter: Coming dangerously close to us, just one floor below. That was the day when we first met Kimberly. We saw that house taken its foundation. There were also several houses there. Yeah, three, track lights there, a house, then one house in the back -- Reporter: Today she said in Mexico beach it still feels like they're just trying to survive. You're just starting to see thins reopen now? Yes. Very exciting. It takes ten steps to complete one. It might be a food truck instead of a restaurant. It might be a pod instead of a store. There's no home for people to live in, so a lot of people are in rvs. Reporter: Talia butcher survived the storm by swimming through that powerful surge. She's still grappling with that trauma. Today I'm still scared of wind because that's what I saw. That's what I was taking everything away at that moment in time. Reporter: I first met her the day after the storm hit. She and her husband credited a pair of life jackets with keeping them alive. You swam? Yes. Out? Yes. Of your home? Yes. To a boat? Yes. Reporter: Their home destroyed. They asked us to try to get word out to Talia's parents that they were okay. They rode out the entire five hours of the storm. I've never been more worried about one of my children in my life. Hi, Talia. Thank you. Thank you so much. Reporter: Today Talia's living in a FEMA trailer, still trying to make sense of her new reality. I'm very blessed to have it, by all means. At least I have something to sleep in at night. But I still want my own. I still want my own home again. Reporter: Just last month, another devastating loss. Talia's husband, Robby, lost his battle with cancer. I'm starting from scratch all over again. And I think that's what's even harder is, you know, I don't have Riley, my soul mate, to keep pushing me. My niece tells me every day, hey, tall yeah it's going to be okay. Reporter: It's still going to be awhile before anything approaches being okay. The day of, we came out and all of these shops and stuff, they had been boarded up. A lot of the stuff was just all torn down. A very powerful category 4 hurricane -- Reporter: From Panama City affiliate wmmb's chief meteorologist Ross Whitley, what Michael left behind still occupies his mind. Whitley told me it's a complicated equation for so many trying to get on their feet. Why are those roofs not back on? Some of it is battles with insurance claims. Some of it has to do with having insurance to begin with. And the other part is getting contractors in here. Reporter: Amidst the devastation, we discovered acts of kindness. Just about an hour's drive away in Youngstown, Florida, we meet Shelley somers. So this is my backyard. I have two people, one in each one of those. Then of course we have regular tents with tarps over them. Unfortunately with the sun and the rain, they have to have a Reporter: After the storm displaced thousands of people, Shelley and her family decided to help. We saw on the news the local tent city. And my first reaction to her and her dad was, this is not right, we have to do something. Reporter: So they opened their own doors and took in their neighbors. Her backyard now filled with tents, a welcome shelter for people like Georgia Richter. My bed right here, a little ac unit. I've got my belongings here. Reporter: Georgia says she couldn't afford housing after the hurricane and was going from hotel to hotel until she found Shelley. There needs to be more housing that's affordable. Panama City, St. Andrews, all that area. It was a pretty poor economy before the storm, now it's gotten even worse. I think it's a struggle for everybody right now. There is thousands. There's thousands of people still displaced and homeless from the hurricane. There's people everywhere living in cars, living in tents. The community has pretty much lost itself. And a lot of people feel that they just don't matter. They do to me, they do to my husband, they do to my daughter, they do to everybody here. So like I said, it's a drop in the bucket. I think the feel is just like, hope. People are hopeful. Because we're never going to be the same. There's always going to be a scar. But there's hope that, you know, there's money coming in. There's things being rebuilt. People are eventually going to come back. Reporter: One year later, they'll admit their strong, but it has been hard. And they're still in need of help, hoping that they have not been forgotten. We're still recovering. Don't forget about us. We're still down hello, we're still here. We might be little but we are still here and we still matter. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm ginger zee in Mexico beach, Florida.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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