PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Salvage Santa's home isn't in the North Pole, but instead right here in Bay County, and Hurricane Michael destroyed it along with many other homes in the area.
Mike Jones, or as many in the area know him, Salvage Santa, put his life on hold after Hurricane Michael to bring Christmas to children who needed it most. Now, more than six months after the storm, he is finally beginning the process to rebuild his home.
Mike Jones and his family have been living in FEMA trailers in his backyard since December, and he doesn't plan on leaving the area anytime soon.
"I've lived here 46 years, bought this ole' house when I was 19 years old, and I'm not going anywhere, I'm going to build a house right where that ole' house stood and I'm going to stay right here in Bay County, Panama City, Florida and enjoy the rest of my life here," said Jones.
He watched Monday as workers demolished his home, finishing off the job Hurricane Michael started.
"It hurts. It hurts bad, it hurts deep inside," said Jones about watching the demolition.
He also had heart surgery in March, but somehow has stayed positive through it all.
"Life's good, you know, I'm alive," said Jones.
His advice for anyone in his position, "Don't leave Bay County, man, this is a great place to live, it's not going to happen overnight. Build you a food pantry, build you an outdoor shower, get you a camper, stick around, things are going to be great."
The hurricane also destroyed his Salvage Santa workshop so he can't take any donations right now, but he says Salvage Santa isn't going anywhere either.
"I've asked people to wait until August or September until I get my shop done and I can get back in the swing of things," said Jones.
Jones said nothing, not even a hurricane or heart surgery, will stop Salvage Santa from bringing joy to the kids.