Local Hurricane Michael survivor back home in the hills

Local News

It has been a little over a month since Hurricane Michael unleashed his fury on the Atlantic and Gulf Coast. Thousands of people left with widespread shock, mass destruction and fatality.

Since 1986, a Kanawha City native, Hugh “Bruddy” Cravens’ made Panama City Beach, Florida his home, raising three children along the beach. As of Wednesday, October 10th, 2018, his little piece of paradise completely washed away.

For the last few weeks, Cravens living in a tent he bought from Target and solely relying on the American Red Cross for food and water.

From the years 1982-2014, Cravens served in the Air Force, and upon retiring, found comfort in a neighborhood along the beach with other veterans.

The morning of October 10th was calm ocean waters according to Cravens and by that afternoon, the unthinkable.

After a few weeks of fending to the best of his ability, Cravens decided to come home and start rebuilding his life. He was greeted at Yeager Airport by long-time friends Jennifer O’Keefe and Jim Smallridge.

For Jennifer, she hadn’t seen him in over 30 years, anxious to see him for the first time in a while.

“I hope I can maintain my emotions, I don’t know what his emotion will be but he has told me he’s absolutely exhausted, he’s coming to rest, coming to be surrounded by loved ones,” said O’Keefe.

Because this is the only way Cravens said he can find normalcy again, by being around friends and family.

Cravens has two sisters, one who lives in Charleston and one who lives in the Teays Valley area.

13 News will continue to follow his progress as he slowly gets back on his feet, which he says will take time, but he is more concerned with the work that still needs to be done to help those still struggling.

“It will be okay, but right now, it’s not. It’s a time where everyone needs to come together and I’ve seen the best and worst in people right now,” said Cravens.

A GoFundMe page has been started to help Cravens rebuild his life here in the Mountain state. He plans to use the money not only buy himself necessities, but to help his coastal friends as well start a new.

Follow the GoFundMe here if you’d like to support “Bruddy” Cravens and others greatly affected by Hurricane Michael.

Follow Haley Kosik’s stories impacting our region on Twitter or Facebook, or send her a news tip at hkosik@wowktv.com.

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