WeatherStorm Tracker Blog


One Mexico Beach Home Took On Hurricane Michael…and Won

Posted at 11:10 AM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 16:29:35-04

You’ve probably seen pictures circulating of the absolute destruction that Hurricane Michael left behind after slamming into the Emerald Coast with Category 4 strength winds. It didn’t take long for the eye wall to move through with the storm, but that didn’t stop it from wiping out most structures and businesses as it did. Mexico Beach, FL was the community that took the brunt of the wind, and residents have been coming home to property that is unrecognizable.

Only a few homes were still standing after the storm. However, even those were badly damaged or even moved. Except for one home. One home rises defiantly among a sea of debris and sustained very little in damage. This home, named the “Sand Palace,” was built with everything it needed to sustain the 155 mph winds that came ashore.

The house was built just last year by Dr. Lebron Lackey, and his uncle, Russell King, both from Tennessee. When the house was built, it was done so with codes above what state law requires. In fact, the price tag to build at these codes were about 15 to 20 percent more than what standard-coded structures cost to build. However, knowing they were building a home in a location that could pose a natural disaster threat, they had to upgrade.

Here’s why their home stood when most others failed.

  • The home was built with 1 foot thick concrete walls lined with rebar. 
  • Pilings that were built throughout the structure were driven 40 feet into the ground.
  • Steel cables were then run from the pilings and connected to the roof.

In a home that can’t withstand such wind, it’s usually the roof that is the last resort for the walls. Once that goes, the home has little to keep it together and will fail. The steel cables connected to the stable pilings in the Sand Palace may have been the catalyst to keep the structure together.

After-Michael satellite image showing the Sand Palace still standing.


Dr. Lackey hopes that the image of his home still standing will inspire those re-building and others in hurricane-prone areas to build beyond state code. While the cost may be high, the costs of losing your home in a hurricane are even higher.