Hurricane Michael ripped through the Florida panhandle this week, walloping Panama City with 155-mile per hour winds and devastating rains. Pictures out of Panama City and other parts of the state showed the decimation wrought by the storm, which downed trees, destroyed homes and left debris in its wake.
“It’s hard to convey in words the scale of the catastrophe in Panama City,” storm chaser Josh Morgerman tweeted. “The whole city looks like a nuke was dropped on it. I’m literally shocked at the scale of the destruction.”
The hurricane made landfall on Wednesday in Mexico Beach, some 25 miles from Panama City. The National Weather Service confirmed it was “unprecedented” in the area, as a Category 4 storm had never hit that part of Florida before. The storm was also the strongest to hit the continental United States since 1992, when Hurricane Andrew swept through, CNN reported.
At least two people were killed by the hurricane so far. One man died in Greensboro, Florida, after a tree fell on his home, while an 11-year-old girl in Seminole County, Georgia, was also killed.
More than 900,000 homes were without power in Florida, Alabama, the Carolinas and Georgia, the Weather Channel reported. FEMA administrator Brock Long said power wasn’t expected to come back on “for a while.”
“I’ve been here all my life and I’ve never seen the water hit the end of the pier the way that it’s doing,” said Panama City Beach Mayor Mike Thomas, according to MSNBC.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said search and rescue teams were moving into Panama City, Mexico Beach, Tyndall, Alligator Point and Carrabelle on Thursday. First responders were working to get food and supplies to those in need.
“This morning, Florida’s Gulf Coast and Panhandle and the Big Bend are waking up to unimaginable destruction,” Scott said.”So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything. This hurricane was an absolute monster.”
Michael weakened into a tropical storm by Thursday, moving northeast through the Carolinas. The storm had maximum winds of up to 50 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.