fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

Never Forgotten Coast: Driftwood Inn

Introduction by Alex Workman | Photography by Jeremy Cowart

Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle in October 2018 and left the town of Mexico Beach, Florida, completely devastated. A team of storytellers from Tallahassee partnered with individuals and entities from around the country to do something to help. They started the Never Forgotten Coast campaign, which created T-shirts for purchase and a website where survivors could share their stories. Through generous donations from people like you, they can help get the community back up and running. Read their stories. Give back. Together, we can make sure the people of Mexico Beach and their experiences are never forgotten.

Our Story

By Shawna Wood, Driftwood Inn

Mom (Peggy Wood) decided she wanted to get the kids out of Atlanta and raise us in a small town, so we came down to Mexico Beach in 1970, and my parents bought a beach house on 34th Street. A year later, we moved here, and she wanted to find something to do where she could be home with all three kids, so they bought the Driftwood. It had seven units, and as they could, my parents built on, one more unit at a time. Over the years, as my dad made money in advertising in Georgia, Mom was taking that money and putting it into the hotel. In 1994, it burned down and was rebuilt, but the front wall and inside six feet have remained the same.

Eighty percent of our customers were repeat customers. We weren’t a Ritz-Carlton by any means. Our rooms had antiques, they had all-tile floors, and we were the only place that allowed pets, but the repeats kept us alive. We had potlucks, movie nights, craft parties, and painting classes. We built a chapel and had hundreds of weddings here. Vow renewals and memorials. It was such a special place.

Kenzie (with baby Maverick), Shawna, and Peggy Wood stand outside the remains of the Driftwood Inn in Mexico Beach Florida from Hurricane Michael
Kenzie (with baby Maverick), Shawna, and Peggy Wood stand outside the remains of the Driftwood Inn.

Our favorite things about this community are the special things that we get to do. We have the special events committee that helps put on the gumbo festival, the wine festival, Christmas tree lightings, etc. We did a campaign once where you got to sponsor a palm tree with a plaque, and those trees have lined the beach for a long time.

We evacuated for Hurricane Michael at the last minute. We had guests that didn’t want to leave, so we couldn’t go until they were all gone. We went up to Dothan and rode it out with the family. There was a lady at the Summer House that had a camera so we could see what was happening, and when you saw the Driftwood from the front, everything looked relatively OK. We were so excited. But when we got back, man, it was such a hard blow.

We knew the houses were gone and the cottages were gone, but we really felt OK knowing that the main building was there. But now they’re telling us they have to tear it down. We came back from Dothan full-time about a week after the storm, and we moved back into our house about a month ago. The bottom floor will be completely gutted, but we’ll renovate it so Mom can stay in it since she lived in the top of the Driftwood.

Kenzie (with baby Maverick), Shawna, and Peggy Wood stand outside the remains of the Driftwood Inn in Mexico Beach Florida from Hurricane Michael
Kenzie (with baby Maverick), Shawna, and Peggy Wood stand outside the remains of the Driftwood Inn.

Everything was gone. It was so heartbreaking. Pictures didn’t show what it was until we got here. I cried for two weeks. All these people wanted interviews, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it.

We’ve already got an architect, a contractor, and a structural engineer talking about plans and how we’re going to rebuild, but at this point, we’re waiting for the city to let us know what we can do. We’re moving forward as much as we can right now and we want to be back in business as soon as possible. There was a meeting with local business owners, and everyone was asked to raise their hand if they weren’t going to rebuild, and not a single hand went up. So the spirit is still here.

I want my kids to experience the Florida I did. I was the one that fought my mom the most when we moved here because I couldn’t believe that she would take me away from Atlanta to a small town with only a few kids. Now I fight her the most for not wanting to leave. I know everything will be shiny and new, and I think that’s OK as long as they still keep the charm of Mexico Beach. We have a lot of property, and there could be a lot of money if we sold out, but we don’t want to and we don’t want to see big condos and big money come in. My parents got this property for less than everyone else bid for it because they promised they would never put a big condo on it. And they never will.

— V —

Visit NeverForgottenCoast.com to see more stories or to donate. Visit DriftwoodInn.com to learn more about the inn.

Read Responsibly

December 2023, Holiday Issue, Christmas, VIE Magazine, Lisa Burwell, Cover, Gift Guide, Holidays
Marisol Gullo, Not Too Shabby, Home, Decor, Interior Design, Santa Rosa Beach, Churchill Oaks
VIE Magazine September 2023 Jay Mercado
VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail