After Hurricane Michael‘s shrieking winds and crashing waves died down, Brandon and Sydni Troupe drove to their neighborhood in Panama City, Florida, to look at the damage.
When they pulled up, ripped shingles, mangled cars and twisted street signs were scattered everywhere. A massive tree trunk sat on debris of a building they’d spent a year renovating into a family-friendly kids’ store.
Its grand opening was set for this weekend.
“I wished I was dreaming,” Brandon Troupe said of seeing their planned project in ruins. “But it was real … I still can’t believe it. I’m still trying to process it.”
The Troupes said they lost everything, including the furniture, deck, walls and ceilings.
“My heart stopped … It has been a year effort and I just didn’t know what to do,” Sydni Troupe said.
Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm near Mexico Beach. It was the strongest storm to hit the continental US since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and left extensive damage in Panama City, where skies were still overcast hours after the gusty winds left town.
The storm killed at least two people and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power as it moved from Florida to Georgia. By early Thursday, Michael had been downgraded to a tropical storm.
Flooding continues along the Gulf Coast, where downed trees and utility poles are complicating rescue efforts.