After Hurricane Michael struck Oct. 10, Kevin and Susan Engle created the nonprofit organization Bay County Strong to gather supplies and distribute them to the hardest hit.

Since then, Susan Engle said she's hugged more strangers than she has her whole life.

"It's so stunning still to see the damages, and we knew immediately we had to do something, so we started just throwing ideas out there, putting pen to paper, and out that, Bay County Strong was formed," Susan said.

Originally from Atlanta, the couple co-owns Back Beach Barbecue in Panama City and Restaurant Paradis in Rosemary Beach, so they had a personal connection to the storm since many of their employees were directly affected.

The day after the storm, Susan said she and her husband, who live in Rosemary Beach, drove east to Panama City and were completely shocked.

"That first morning of helping our employees (inspect homes and locate family members) and seeing the destruction, we knew we had been spared and had a responsibility to help our employees and so many others," Kevin said.

Fortunately, the couple had been in the food industry for some time, making connections across the country along the way. That put them in a position to help raise money for relief efforts, along with being able to provide food for victims, which they knew would be crucial in the days ahead.

Apart from feeding people, Bay County Strong also donates supplies and personally visits some families.

"(Providing) assistance to people quickly is something that makes us most proud," Kevin said, who added that they also partner with other nonprofits to maximize the area's relief efforts.

Bay County Strong teamed up with other groups for Christmas for the Coast, an upcoming dinner to feed and give gifts to families that were severely affected by Hurricane Michael.

When the nonprofit began, Susan said members created a goal of raising $50,000. As of Nov. 27, they had already raised more than $30,000 and have no plans of slowing down, said Susan.

Recently, while feeding and donating supplies to hundreds of people at Parker United Methodist Church, Susan said she saw destruction unlike anything she had ever seen before.

Thanks to the government and community groups, Bay County is regaining its strength — but has a long road to recovery.

"From that first day, that first day after the storm, Panama City looks better, when you go over the Hathaway Bridge, it looks improved, but if you've never seen it, and didn't see it before, you would think 'How is this an improvement?' It's still really bad," Susan said.