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Widespread Panhandle Damage from Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Residents across the Panhandle are getting a fresh look at the punch their region took from Hurricane Michael.

The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida‘s Panhandle left wide destruction and at least two people dead and wasn’t nearly finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia.

Now as a tropical storm, toward the Carolinas, that are still reeling from epic flooding by Hurricane Florence.

A day after the supercharged storm crashed ashore amid white sand beaches, fishing towns and military bases, Michael was no longer a Category 4 monster packing 155 mph winds. 

Damage in Panama City near where Michael came ashore Wednesday afternoon was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled away, sent airborne, and homes were split open by fallen trees. 

Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Palm trees whipped wildly in the winds. More than 380,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm.

A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said. But she added emergency crews trying to reach the home were hampered by downed trees and debris blocking roadways. The debris was a problem in many coastal communities and still hundreds of thousands of people were also left without power.

Gov. Rick Scott announced afterward that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode. He said “aggressive” search and rescue efforts would get underway.

“Hurricane Michael cannot break Florida,” Scott vowed.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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