PANAMA CITY: Hurricane Michael’s assault on the Florida Panhandle left nothing more than empty foundations and heaps of rubble in some parts of the small towns it crashed into with near-record force on Wednesday.
Communications outages and roads blocked by downed trees, strewn power lines and debris made it difficult to get an overall assessment of the damage wrought by Michael, but the initial picture was grim.
Michael smashed into Florida’s northwest coast near the small town of Mexico Beach with screeching 250 kilometres per hour winds, pushing a wall of seawater inland.
The sky cleared on Thursday. Some residents with destroyed or damaged homes counted themselves lucky to have survived.
Linda Burton returned to Parker, a town of about 4,300 northwest of Mexico Beach, from a storm haven in Alabama to find her motor home destroyed by falling trees.
“This is the worst it’s ever been,” she said. “We’re happy to be alive.” Video shot by CNN from a helicopter showed homes closest to the water in Mexico Beach had lost all but their foundations. Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the US mainland, weakened to a tropical storm and pushed northeast on Thursday, bringing drenching rains to Georgia.