Hurricane Michael left streets and docks swamped and endless damage. The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida‘s Panhandle left extensive destruction and at least one person dead before crossing Georgia into the Carolinas, which were still recovering from epic flooding resulting from Hurricane Florence.
Helicopter search and rescue crews were expected to intensify efforts to reach badly affected areas and check for people trapped or incapacitated by the storm debris. Residents of Panama City Beach began to survey the damage left by Hurricane Michael, which tore to shore with 155 mph winds, rough surf, and storm surge, dropping several inches of rain.
A helicopter survey of the area shows signs strewn, trees snapped, and damage to many businesses and homes. Communications were also interrupted by the storm with cell service out in the area, while local media in the panhandle fought to stay on the air as their towers were hit during the storm.
According to Vance Beu, 29, whose roof was punctured by a pine tree, the storm sounded like a jet engine as winds increased, and his ears popped as the pressure dropped.
“It was terrifying, honestly. There was a lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break at any time. We had the inside windows kind of barricaded in with mattresses. We did whatever we could to kind of hunker down,” he said.
Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said they received a call saying a tree had collapsed through the roof of the man’s home in Greensboro trapping him. Though emergency crews attempted to access the home, the downed power lines and blocked roads were it difficult, therefore, helicopter response was considered.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said helicopter search and rescue teams headed into the state’s hardest-hit areas to assist survivors. In a news conference, Scott urged people to stay off roads and allow first responders to begin the work of search and rescue and recovery.
Scott added that at least 192,000 homes and businesses were without power, but promised “a massive wave of response” with thousands of utility personnel spreading out to reestablish power, along with medical teams, law enforcement personnel and the search and rescue squads, aided by helicopters.
Louisiana was also sending dozens of emergency personnel by air, along with boats, ambulances and other equipment to Florida to help residents.
The emergency workers include ambulance teams coordinated by the Louisiana health department, firefighters, search and rescue workers from the fire marshal’s office, medical staff and a helicopter team from the Louisiana National Guard. The assistance was coordinated through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact system. Also, Entergy said its Louisiana subsidiaries would send 170 employees and contractors to restore power lost due to Hurricane Michael.