Residents across the Florida Panhandle woke Thursday morning to survey the devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael.
Among them were Frank Knight and his wife Terri, who rode out the storm along with most of their neighbors in a mobile home park in Panama City.
“Just like everybody else, didn’t want to leave what we had,” Knight said when asked why he and his wife chose to stay. “Basically, I had no choice. Everything I have is right there. It’s just the choice we had to make.”
Downed trees lay across their home Thursday morning as Michael — now a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph — plowed north to the Carolinas.
“Everything we have is right there — gone,” said Knight, pointing at his home, now a mangled wreckage of twisted metal and splintered wood.
The Knights and other residents of the park told CNN they were waiting for chainsaws to cut up the trees that fell on their homes and cars.
“Now I’ve got to start today with a sledgehammer and … start pulling it apart,” he said. “Try to salvage what I can.”
Knight was mostly focused on retrieving crucial medicine he needed for his heart. If he went without it for a week, Knight said, he could die.
“I’ve got to get to it,” he said.
Knight, who said he also survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005, wasn’t afraid of Michael when he heard it was coming.
“Hell, I survived several (hurricanes). You know, like Katrina, Grace and Hurricane Allen in 1980. I have no fear. Death don’t scare me.”
The only thing he was worried about, Knight said, was his wife.
She sustained the only injury in the mobile home park when a tree fell on their home, landed on her foot and kept her pinned in their bathroom for an hour and a half.
“That’s the only thing I was afraid for,” he said.
Now that the storm has moved on, the Knights are focused on picking up the pieces of their lives and finding a way forward.
Frank Knight told CNN they will try to keep living for now in what’s left of their home.
“Surviving it was not the hard part,” he said. “It’s just knowing where to go after.”