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Prohibition Makes a Return in Some Florida Counties After Hurricane Michael

Residents of the Florida Panhandle might need a drink as they continue to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael, but they’re going to need to wait a few more days.

Officials in Gulf County and Bay County have imposed bans on the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages. That means no six packs from the corner market and no margaritas at the corner bar in Panama City, Apalachicola, or several other cities.

The bans, ordered by the sheriff’s departments on Monday, are permitted under Florida’s Statute 870.045, which lets public officials prohibit the sale of alcohol, gas, and other flammable liquids as well as establish curfews.

Officials did not answer calls, as some communications in the area are still disrupted.

Despite some internet rumors of a ban lasting as much as 30 days, though, the prohibition will likely have a much shorter lifespan. NWFDailyNews.com, a site compiling stories from many local newspapers, says the ban in Gulf County is expected to be lifted Saturday morning. Bay County began to relax its restrictions late Thursday.

“You have a lot of people who can’t get to work, they’re in their homes or with their neighbors, waiting on insurance adjusters, house repairs, whatever,” Bay County Sherrif’s spokesperson Ruth Corley told the Pensacola News Journal. “They’re sitting around and if they get to drinking they can make unwise decisions … . Some people are very depressed. It’s not uncommon for this type of declaration to go out in light of devastation like this.”

Hurricane Michael was the strongest storm to hit Florida since 1951. The death toll is still being calculated, but currently stands at 18. Damages from the storm could top $4.5 billion, say officials.