FLORIDA – As Hurricane Michael slammed into Florida, US Muslims have urged people to donate funds to help repair the Panama City Masjid, the CAIR-FL NW Florida Office, and Islamic School damaged by the hurricane and provide general disaster relief.
“Hurricane Michael is the strongest hurricane to strike the FL Panhandle on record. It is also the strongest storm to make landfall in the continental US since Hurricane Andrew in 1992,” Hassan Shibly, the organizer of the fundraising campaign, wrote on LaunchGood.
“The roof of the Masjid in Panama City has been blown off causing thousands of dollars in damage.
“We are unable to contact the masjid at this time nor are we able to contact CAIR-FL staff who work out of the Panama City office,” he added.
Hurricane Michael, the fiercest storm to hit Florida in a quarter century and the third-most powerful ever to strike the US mainland, roared into the state’s Gulf coast on Wednesday with tree-snapping winds and towering waves.
Michael, whose rapid intensification as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico caught many by surprise, made landfall early in the afternoon near Mexico Beach, about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Panama City in Florida’s Panhandle region, with top sustained winds reaching 155 miles per hour (249 kph).
Michael grew from a tropical storm into a Category 4 hurricane over the course of about 40 hours.
With minimum barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, a measure of hurricane strength, Michael stood as the strongest storm ever to hit Florida’s Panhandle and the most intense anywhere in the state since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Michael also ranked as the third-most powerful storm on record to make landfall in the continental United States, after Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the so-called Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.
Shibly and the South Florida Muslim Federation Inc. urged people to help rebuild the destroyed mosque and provide assistance to the community.
“We need your help to rebuild. Funds will be used to repair the masjid, and also repair the CAIR-FL Panama City office and the school as needed,” he wrote.
“Any funds collected over the amount needed to repair those three buildings will be used to provide assistance to the community’s recovery efforts.”