Treasure Island Marina Bounces Back After Hurricane Michael

It’s been five years, this last October, since the landfall of Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida. To celebrate, Treasure Island Marina cut the ribbon on their new 82,000-square-foot dry storage barn. It’s the final piece in a years-long renovation project following the storm’s devastation in October of 2018. Family-owned and operated since 1976, Treasure Island Marina remains a critical fueling station, homeport, and key access point to the Gulf of Mexico for many local boat owners, including several charter fishing vessels. Over the last five years, the marina has worked hard to keep their clients happy, and their employees paid. Now with their first-rate facility they’re ready to weather the storms ahead.

The renovation project totaled about $13M, after Michael devastated three buildings and much of the marina. Three docks required replacement while the remaining two were salvaged and repaired. “The pilings do well,” said George Laird, manager of Treasure Island Marina. “But the dock is what takes a beating.” The marina also rebuilt the concrete seawall that was damaged in the storm. Orlando-based contractor, Roof and Rack, a family-owned and operated business and longtime friend of the marina came onboard to provide design and construction services. Roof and Rack built one of the marina’s original dry storage barns in 1999 which stood through the storm to be renovated shortly after with new galvanized supports, new siding, and new roof. The 1999 dry storage barn along with the seafood market and bath house are the only original buildings left on the property.

Reconstruction and Modern Amenities
Today, the brand new 12.1-acre campus is ready to serve clients with +400 dry storage bays, 40 private wet slips, 50 charter wet slips, and 37 transient (first come first served) slips. The newly completed 82,000 square foot dry storage barn has 288 storage bays and sits around six feet proud of sea level. The original ship’s store, which sat at the water’s edge for nearly 40 years, suffered irreparable damage from the storm. The new store sits in an upland location about 10-12 feet above sea level and the store’s original location is now a grassy open space where clients can rest after a day on the water. “It’s a great place to relax and watch all the boats tie up and unload,” said Will Fleming, COO. The new construction required about 9,000 yards of concrete and 375 tons of steel, and all the new structures are at least 16” of double reinforced concrete. On average, the new design raised the entire campus about two feet above sea level. “We’re as confident sitting here today as we’ll ever be,” said Fleming of the new design.

The original ship’s store was destroyed during Hurricane Michael in 2018. The new store sits 10-12 feet above sea level.

The massive rebuild was an ongoing collaboration between the marina and Roof and Rack. “It was a pleasure to work with the Roof and Rack team,” said Fleming, who noted that the design process took about 18 months to finalize. “It took several attempts to get the building colors and design to really look good.” However, it was the DEP permitting process for stormwater design, which proved to be the largest hurdle in the project. “We spent 10-12 months negotiating with the state of Florida DEP to determine how the stormwater was going to run,” said Fleming. When you return to bare earth in Florida, you must control your stormwater. It’s a massive stormwater system that we’ve got now.” The new dry storage barn holds a network of retention tanks beneath each storage bay, which are all connected with three large pipes to equalize the water levels across the system. The barn roof drains to this underground retention system and out near the docks, a new swale also catches water and pumps it back to the barn where it enters the retention system. “It sounds counterintuitive,” said Fleming, “but it has already handled some pretty large storms and handled them well.” He estimated the new stormwater system cost about $800,000.

The landfall at the marina came as a catastrophic surprise. “Michael wasn’t

Following the storm, the marina had the only operating fuel dock in the Panama City area.

going to hit here,” said Fleming, “until the last second. So, we had maybe two days to do what we had to do. The big lesson is to stay vigilant.” Despite mother nature’s ambush, Treasure Island Marina proudly remained open immediately following the storm. Fleming recalled being the only operating fuel dock on the water in the greater Panama City area after the storm. “We got the fuel dock fixed immediately,” he said. They then worked quickly and creatively to get their clients’ boats out of storage. “It was important to allow those fishermen to get back on the water,” said Fleming. After the hurricane rendered their water access impassable, the crew got creative and cut a passageway through their standing dry storage barn wall to get boats in the water. They also constructed an additional forklift haul-out to allow them to stay open while reconstructing the seawall and building the new forklift haul-out.

Supporting Staff
Fleming admitted that it would have been easier to close the marina during the rehabilitation project, but the clients and employees motivated them to remain open.

Recognizing the real value of people, the marina made extra effort to retain its dedicated and knowledgeable staff, many of whom have been at the marina for over 20 years. “There were a couple of weeks when people couldn’t get through the obstruction and get here,” recounted Fleming. “So, we paid our staff whether they could get to the marina or not.”

Businesses come and go, but it takes something extra to endure catastrophe and rebuild. Today, everyone at Treasure Island is thrilled with their new marina and is looking forward to the years ahead. “We rebuilt this facility top to bottom,” says Laird, who has been at the marina for over 28 years. “We’re kind of a one-stop shop for everything: dry storage, parts, service, 24-hour fuel, we can do it all.” Treasure Island Marina is located off St Andrew Bay in the lower Grand Lagoon with quick access to the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Island Beach, and all major attractions in Panama City Beach. “We invite everyone to come and visit,” said Fleming, “See you on the water.”