Charles Burgess' low, concrete building seemed like a safe place to weather the storm. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

By Meghan Overdeep
October 12, 2018
Pawaday Inn Panama City
Credit: Facebook/Pawaday Inn

Charles Burgess was under the assumption that his low concrete building on East Sixth Street in Panama City, Florida would be strong enough to weather Hurricane Michael. But shortly into the storm's onslaught, the roof of Pawaday Inn—the pet grooming and boarding business he's owned for the past six years—collapsed. The walls followed suit shortly after.

Burgess recalled to the Miami Herald how at that point, he and his employees whisked the 12 dogs and two cats they were holed up with into a small, stronger inner room while they were pelted by sheets of driving rain. Two of the dogs escaped as Michael bore down on them.

"We thought the building would hold up but it didn't," Burgess told the Herald. "The roof caved in. Then, the walls caved in."

As his customers fled town ahead of Hurricane Michael, Burgess assured them that he would care for their pets while they were gone. It was a promise he didn't intend to break.

It was mid-afternoon on Wednesday when Burgess and his workers got their first glimpse of sunlight. They stumbled out of the destruction—a mess of cinderblocks and insulation. The dogs were soaked but they were barking.

The two escaped dogs hadn't gone far, and Burgess and his employees made quick work of rounding them up. But there was one casualty. Sadly, a cat named Tomcat got stuck behind rubble and drowned.

"When the wall caved in, it blocked us from getting to him and the water just kept coming in," Burgess explained to the Herald.

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He shook his head as he looked at the pile of rubble that was his livelihood.

"I've got to start over, Burgess said. "I had a good client base, but it's hard finding a good decent building in this area."

You can contribute to the Pawaday Inn's recovery efforts via GoFundMe.