‘Just praying for it to end’: Family rides out Hurricane Michael in a bulldozer

SNEADS, Fla. – When 80-foot pines started snapping all around their house, Nathan Bunting knew there was only one place for his family to take refuge – inside the cab of an old but sturdy bulldozer in the front yard.

Before Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10 at Mexico Beach, Bunting parked the bulldozer near large trees not far from their house in the Apalachee Wildlife Management Area north of Sneads in Jackson County. He hoped the Caterpillar and a large GMC dump truck would shield the home from falling trees.

But Michael packed a far more powerful punch than they expected. They feared trees would come crashing through the roof at any moment. He realized their best option wasn’t necessarily following conventional wisdom and riding the storm out in an interior room. 

They would take their chances and go to the bulldozer, a 12-and-a-half ton piece of forest equipment with a heavy steel mesh welded around the cab windows. After all, he reasoned, it was built to take a hit from falling trees. He’d seen it happen before during routine forestry work.

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