Storm brings ‘unimaginable destruction’
The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael came into focus Thursday with rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces in Panama City, Fla., and rescue crews began making their way into the stricken areas in hopes of accounting for hundreds of people who may have stayed behind.
At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, and it wasn’t done yet: Though reduced to a tropical storm, it brought flash flooding to North Carolina and Virginia, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.
Under a perfectly clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged from darkened shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.
Gov. Rick Scott said the Panhandle woke up to “unimaginable destruction.”
“So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything,” he said.
The small Gulf Coast community of Mexico Beach was known as a slice of Old Florida.
Now it lies in splinters. Hit head-on by Hurricane Michael, numerous homes in this resort town of about 1,190 people were shattered or ripped from their foundations. Boats were tossed like toys. The streets closest to the water looked as if a bomb had gone off.
What the 9-foot storm surge didn’t destroy, the 155 mph winds finished off.
Now, rescuers and residents are struggling to get into the ground-zero town to assess the damage and search for the hundreds of people believed to have stayed behind.
Rescue personnel on Thursday search amidst debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla.
Hector Benthall, right, gets a hug from his neighbor Keito Jordan after remnants of Hurricane Michael sent a tree crashing into Benthall’s home on Thursday in Columbia, S.C.