Mexico Beach home survives Hurricane Michael virtually untouched: 'We intended to build it to survive'

"If you want to have it last, build it above and beyond," the homeowner said.

October 15, 2018, 6:17 PM

The seaside community of Mexico Beach, Florida, was demolished by Hurricane Michael -- but one family's newly built concrete home survived virtually untouched.

"Hurricanes happen and so we intended to build it to survive" and pass through the generations, Dr. Lebron Lackey told ABC News of the vacation home he built last year with his uncle.

When Category 4 Michael made landfall at Mexico Beach Wednesday with winds around 155 mph, Lackey was home in Tennessee, "nauseated" as he monitored the house security camera, watching footage of the winds and debris whipping by.

Lackey wasn't confident the home would survive, afraid he would lose the roof at any moment.

"I was watching the corner of the roof buck like an airplane wing. And I was watching the air pass by with debris in it about the speed of which you'd expect to see in an airplane," he said.

For Lackey and his uncle, the goal during construction just last year was to go "overboard to preserve the structure." He said they often went the extra mile to add more concrete -- especially in corners.

PHOTO: A photo of Dr. Lebron Lackey's newly-built Mexico Beach, Florida, home taken Oct. 15, 2018. The house survived Hurricane Michael nearly untouched.
A photo of Dr. Lebron Lackey's newly-built Mexico Beach, Florida, home taken Oct. 15, 2018. The house survived Hurricane Michael nearly untouched.
ABC News

Making small accommodations as they went, he said they often "went one step further" beyond the building codes, like when they added 1-foot thick concrete walls as well as steel cables to hold the roof steady.

They also built the ground floor out of tall pilings, with the house elevated above it, to create a ground floor structure intended to give way with massive storm surge if necessary -- and "sure enough it did," he said.

Lackey said he only felt the house was vulnerable in the corner of the roof from an "airplane wing effect."

PHOTO: The home Russell King and his nephew Lebron Lackey had built to withstand 250-mph winds in Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 14, 2018, is seen still standing after Hurricane Michael passed through the area.
The home Russell King and his nephew Lebron Lackey had built to withstand 250-mph winds in Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 14, 2018, is seen still standing after Hurricane Michael passed through the area.
Johnny Milano/The New York Times/Redux

Lackey said the additions weren't very expensive and called them "totally worth it."

To others looking to build their dream beach home, Lackey recommends studying "the environment where you are and take whatever you hear and expect it to be worse than that. And if you want to have it last, build it above and beyond."

PHOTO: An American flag flies amidst destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 11, 2018.
An American flag flies amidst destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 11, 2018.
Gerald Herbert/AP
PHOTO: Rescue personnel perform a search in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla.,  Oct. 11, 2018.
Rescue personnel perform a search in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 11, 2018.
Gerald Herbert/AP

"I'm a fan of concrete construction," he added.

Though Lackey's family's home is standing strongly in the sand, it's surrounded by destruction.

PHOTO: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter surveys the damage wrought by Hurricane Michael over Mexico Beach, Fla., on Oct. 11, 2018.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter surveys the damage wrought by Hurricane Michael over Mexico Beach, Fla., on Oct. 11, 2018.
CBP/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: Damage from Hurricane Michael is seen in Mexico Beach, Fla. on Oct. 11, 2018.
Damage from Hurricane Michael is seen in Mexico Beach, Fla. on Oct. 11, 2018. Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Florida Panhandle to reach trapped people in Michael's wake Thursday as daylight yielded scenes of rows upon rows of houses smashed to pieces by the hurricane.
SevereStudios.com via AP

Michael demolished nearly every Mexico Beach home and business in its path, including the Mexico Beach Police Department.

Of the 18 confirmed fatalities from Hurricane Michael, one was in Mexico Beach.

PHOTO: Panama City waterfront in Florida before and after Hurricane Michael.
Panama City waterfront in Florida before and after Hurricane Michael.
Copyright 2018 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company

"These are great people," Lackey said of Mexico Beach residents, describing it as a small, family town.

"We will rebuild," he said. "We're coming back."

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