PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Homes lay in ruins, their roofs ripped off and walls peeled away. Collapsed sheds and battered awnings littered fields. Rows of power poles leaned nearly horizontally, their electric lines scattered like spaghetti. In the distance, an endless expanse of toppled trees.
The wounds left by Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever hit the U.S., came into focus across this small coastal community a day after the storm made landfall.
Video: Homes swept of foundation or missing from their stilt foundation in Mexico Beach, FL; scenes of complete destruction up and down the beach. This was where the brunt of Hurricane #Michael storm surge came ashore @breakingweather @accuweather pic.twitter.com/SZmlL4zsEP
— Reed Timmer (@ReedTimmerAccu) October 11, 2018
By Thursday, Michael had been downgraded to a tropical storm and was drenching the Carolinas, which are still recovering from the deluge of rain unleashed last month by Hurricane Florence.
At least six deaths have been attributed to Michael, which blasted a swath of destruction across several states. Cotton, pecan and peanut crops were lost in Georgia, and one million power customers were offline Thursday in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia, according to reports from local utilities.
Aerial view of devastation at #MexicoBeach, Fl caused by #HurricaneMichael
Courtesy LSM/Brandon Clement pic.twitter.com/hqHTdkOz2E
— ABC 33/40 News (@abc3340) October 11, 2018
#Michael is now a big rainmaker in the mid-Atlantic before it bolts into the Atlantic tomorrow. Flash flooding and gusty winds are ongoing in parts of Virginia. The latest: https://t.co/x92uGr0szj pic.twitter.com/KKZwbF3U93
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) October 11, 2018
By Thursday afternoon, the roads into Panama City were crammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic, with police at checkpoints stopping homeowners from returning. Steady convoys of utility trucks, ambulances, law enforcement and trailers carrying heavy equipment streamed in. Bay County officials told residents to brace for a long recovery. Power remained out, and cell service was spotty. Some schools sustained serious structural damage, meaning classes may not resume for weeks, the school superintendent said.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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