Hurricane Michael made landfall near the Florida town of Mexico Beach on Wednesday afternoon. The storm brought winds up to 155 mph, and flooding of over 7 feet was recorded in some areas.
The combination of those devastating conditions left homes in Mexico Beach destroyed and submerged in water. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said damage along the state’s coast from Mexico Beach to Panama City was “way worse than anybody ever anticipated,” according to Reuters.
Based on its extremely low central pressure – a key measurement of a hurricane’s intensity – Michael was the third-strongest hurricane in US history. Two people were reported dead due to the storm as of Thursday morning: A man in Florida was killed when a tree fell on top of his house, and an 11-year-old child was killed in Georgia when debris fell on a home.
CNN published an aerial video showing the hurricane’s damage to homes in Mexico Beach, which Federal Emergency Management Agency head Brock Long called “ground zero” for the storm.
The following photos show how severe the destruction in Mexico Beach is.
In Hurricane Michael’s wake on Thursday, search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Florida Panhandle to reach trapped people.
Here, firefighter Austin Schlarb performs a door-to-door search in Mexico Beach.
According to the Red Cross, as many as 320,000 people did not evacuate despite official orders and dire warnings.
Although some people chose to remain in their homes, others were unable to get out in time for financial reasons or due to disability or illness.
The storm intensified rapidly – it grew from a tropical depression into a Category 4 hurricane in just 72 hours, which gave residents little time to make plans.
Local news station WKRG reported that about 280 of Mexico Beach’s 1,000 residents did not evacuate, according to city administrator Tanya Castor. Their fate is still unknown.
Mishelle McPherson searched for a friend in the rubble of her home in Mexico Beach, since the friend did not leave before Michael hit.
Resident Tony Feller is one of the residents who stayed in Mexico Beach.
The damage near the shore was shocking. The view shown here was captured on video by SevereStudios, a storm-chasing streaming platform.
Here, a small boat sits amid debris in Mexico Beach.
By Thursday morning, Michael had weakened to a tropical storm as it moved toward central Georgia. But the wake of destruction it left behind will make for a long and difficult recovery.
At least 479,000 customers were left without power in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama as of 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Michael’s core is expected to move off the mid-Atlantic coast late Thursday or early Friday. Forecasters say strong winds are still possible in parts of northeastern North Carolina, southeastern Virginia, and the Delmarva Peninsula (which is divided between Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware).