Three months after Hurricane Michael made landfall, Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility has reopened its doors.
On Monday, one week after the Panama City-based private prison reopened, Warden Craig Hanks led the facility’s Community Advisory Committee on a tour to give them a sense of the damage wrought by the devastating storm that tore through the Panhandle in October.
“Hurricane Michael was a deadly, category four storm that hit Bay County with winds over 155 miles per hour,” Hanks said. “Our facility suffered catastrophic damage while housing more than 960 inmates and 100 of our staff members and their families.
“We are proud of our employees, because, together, we pulled through safely and recovered quickly. Now, less than four months after Hurricane Michael made landfall, we stand ready to reopen —the first correctional facility in the region to do so,” he continued.
In addition to leading a tour, Hanks detailed the steps taken at the GEO Group facility to prepare for Michael and what it’s done over the past three months to speed toward reopening the facility, which officially went back into operation Tuesday.
Chief among those efforts: Setting up temporary housing for staff and their families, some of whom still needed a place to stay a month after Michael dissipated.
“We are incredibly proud of our staff and community, who truly came together in the wake of this devastating storm, and we look forward to, once again, being able to offer the individuals in our care the unparalleled programming available at Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility that helps to successfully integrate inmates back into society and reduces the likelihood of recidivism,” Hanks concluded.
GEO Group included a shout out to the contractors that made the quick reopening possible, saying White Construction Company and Ameritech General’s “quick deployment of resources and work coordination with the facility made this reactivation possible”
Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach in early October, killing three dozen Floridians and causing billions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses, infrastructure and Tyndall Air Force Base.