As the sun rises a day after Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle, some people who rode out the storm are getting a first glance of their devastated neighborhoods while others await word on loved ones who didn’t evacuate.
What were once white-sand beach resorts and fishing towns have turned into flooded streets with flattened trees and ripped homes.
More than 500,000 customers lost power in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, and some people haven’t been able to reach loved ones since Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon.
Megan McCall can’t get a hold of her relatives, who are north of Panama City, in the town of Alford, Florida. Her brother Jeff McCall, his wife, Kristi, their two children and his wife’s parents rode out the storm in their three-story home.
Megan McCall spoke to her brother Wednesday afternoon, and he said the weather was getting worse, she said. About 5 p.m., her brother called a friend and said the house was getting cracks on the wall and the sliding glass doors were blowing in and starting to break.
He told the friend the family had hunkered down in the basement, where the wind shield was not as bad. About 6:30 p.m. ET, McCall missed a call from her brother, and no one has heard from him since.
“I called him back about 45 minutes later, and the phone just rang and rang, which I thought was a good sign, but nobody answered. I kept calling back and eventually the calls started going straight to voicemail. I’m hoping his phone is just dead and not worse,” she said.
‘I just need to know he’s OK’
McCall used social media to find a neighbor who lives across the street from her brother. The neighbor said all the docks in the area are destroyed, the roads are impassable and everyone is stuck in their homes.
She said the neighbor used binoculars to look across the lake at Jeff McCall’s home, and said the roof appeared to be intact. The neighbor told her the docks are destroyed so evacuating by boat is impossible, and the power is out and cell service is mostly knocked out, too.
“I just need to know he’s OK. If the house and the cars are destroyed they can be replaced. … I would do anything to just know he’s OK,” she said.
Since making landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, Michael has left thousands of people without power, turned homes and marinas into rubble and killed at least two people.
Michael has been downgraded to a tropical storm as it slams Georgia with heavy rain and dangerous winds and heads toward the storm-weary Carolinas. It’s expected to bring tornadoes, rainfall and unprecedented wind damage along its path.