Patterson estimated 1,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed in his town of 3,500 people.
In Panama City, plywood and metal flew off the front of a Holiday Inn Express.
The storm, packing sustained winds that reached 155 miles per hour, clobbered communities across the Panhandle, toppling buildings, downing trees and power lines and turning streets into roof-high waterways, television footage showed. Where homes once stood, offering premium views of the Gulf of Mexico, a few boards lay scattered across foundations.
Most houses in the northern section of Mexico Beach aren't there anymore. The home was found smashed, with no sign of the woman.
Linda Clarke gasped repeatedly at the sight of her once new home in Shell Point Beach - now severely damaged. Cars floated by. Debris whipped through the air. "It's unrealistic for people to think it's going to happen in the next day or two". That represents an enormous reservoir of extra potential hurricane energy, beyond what the warm Gulf already provides anyway this time of year.
'It's going to be pretty dark without her, ' he said.
With winds as high as 155 miles per hour, Michael leveled buildings and structures, flooded streets, and left a trail of destruction.More news: Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham Sues Band for Cutting Him from Tour
"We haven't seen her since the tree hit the den".
While many cities along the Florida Panhandle enjoy the protection of various channel, barrier and tied islands, which can help stifle the impact of storm surge on the mainland, Mexico Beach sits between Crooked Island and the St. Joseph Peninsula, directly on the water.
High winds, downed trees, streets inundated by rising waters and multiple rescues of motorists from waterlogged cars played out in spots around Virginia and neighbouring North Carolina. "If you and your family made it through the storm safely, which I pray that you did, the worst thing you can do now is to act foolishly and put yourself and your family in danger or keep law enforcement and rescue workers from saving somebody's life".
Patricia Mulligan said she survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992, only to encounter the wrath of another storm Wednesday.
Many homes were ripped apart or washed away altogether in Mexico Beach, the town of 1,000 where the hurricane came ashore.
The devastation to the tiny towns of Mexico City and Panama City Beach was enormous - one resident said it "looked like a bomb went off" - and yet the hurricane's descent on a sparsely populated stretch of beach was credited with limiting the damage.
Row after row of beachfront homes were so obliterated by Michael's surging seas and howling winds that only slabs of concrete in the sand remain, a testament that this was ground zero when the epic Category 4 hurricane slammed ashore at midweek. "That's her floor tile".More news: Crowds gather for second big royal wedding of the year
When she dared to look outside, water was grazing the fronds of tall palm trees on the beach.
Michael pushed a storm surge with a peak ranging from 9 feet to 14 feet from Mexico Beach east through Apalachee Bay.
Albrecht, the Mexico Beach councilwoman, would like to return home, but she says the roads are impassible. The rest were missing roofs or siding. "She's my baby", a distraught O'Brien said, her face wet with tears. The docks are gone and several boats were capsized, including one belonging to her brother, she said. "It never has", he he told CNN affiliate WDBJ.
Sheriff Smith said the 12,000 residents of Franklin County received evacuation warnings from multiple sources, including Mr. Scott. Some operate vacation home rentals, while others work jobs cleaning and maintaining the homes.
Charles Alexander, director of contingency operations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said there is no significant damage to dams or levees.
In a recent study in the Journal of Climate, researchers found more rapid intensifications in a simulation of a human-warmed world, and also that this would prove a key pathway toward more intense hurricanes in general.More news: 17 surreal things that happened during the Donald Trump-Kanye West summit
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