Tourists can help rebuild storm-ravaged town in Florida

Aerial video shows widespread hurricane destruction in Mexico Beach, Florida
Posted at 12:07 PM, Jan 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 12:07:37-05

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Officials in a Florida Panhandle beach town are hoping tourists want to do more than frolic in the surf and lay in the sun.
They're hoping tourists will help rebuild a neighboring beach town devastated by Hurricane Michael in 2018.

Officials in Panama City Beach on Tuesday introduced a program that allows tourists during their visit to help build homes and plant sea oats in the sand dunes of neighboring Mexico Beach, which was demolished by the category 5 storm.

The tourism promotion agency is offering a "Stay it Forward" package for tourists interested in helping out.

Dan Rowe, CEO of Visit Panama City Beach, said tourists during visits have been asking how they can help area residents. Compared to surrounding areas, Panama City Beach was comparatively unscathed by Hurricane Michael.

"Mexico Beach has come a long way but there is still work to do," Rowe said.