A week ago, Mexico Beach was a picturesque seaside community on the Florida panhandle that was growing more uneasy by the moment as Hurricane Michael spun northward through the Gulf of Mexico.
Now, it is the site of some of the most devastating damage from the hurricane, which slammed ashore Wednesday, virtually wiping out huge chunks of the community and leaving shards of dreams in its wake.
The damage was captured in stunning satellite images showing parts of the town before the storm and after its passage:
Unimaginable devastation in #MexicoBeach. These are before and after images showing the incredible damage caused by #Hurricane #Michael. Our crews are LIVE in Florida with the latest on recovery efforts.
“It was just gut-wrenching,” Staff Sgt. Andrew Pliscofsky, one member of an Army National Guard unit dispatched to help the stricken community, told The Washington Post.
“It was like a monster came through and kicked it all down. This all just shocked us,” Pliscofsky said.
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Courtesy LSM/Brandon Clement pic.twitter.com/hqHTdkOz2E
“I am totally shocked what this has done to our entire town,” Mayor Al Cathey, who has spent 65 years in the community, said, according to CBS News.
Debris blocked roads into the city, including houses tossed by the winds. Cathey estimated it might be two months before power is fully restored.
As of Friday night, one fatality had been reported in the community.
“Unfortunately, I think you’re going to see it climb,” William “Brock” Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Friday, according to The Post. “I hope we don’t see it climb dramatically. But I have reasons to believe — we haven’t gotten into some of the hardest hit areas, particularly the Mexico Beach area.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited the community with Long on Friday, the Miami Herald reported.
“Mexico Beach … It’s like a bomb went off. It’s like a war zone,” he said.
Long called the town “wiped out.”
Mexico Beach resident Thomas Jett found out he waited too long to evacuate when his van could not take the wind, so he hunkered down with his dog when the rain and wind hit, The Post reported.
“There’s not a word in the dictionary to explain how bad it was,” Jett said. “It’s like the end of the world. … It’s amazing anybody’s still alive, still standing. … In the blink of an eye it’s all gone. It’s horrible.”
The hurricane was capricious in its violence.
Kenny Faris, who was helping his sister clean items from her mostly undamaged house, noted that the house suffered one major problem — the winds ripped it off its foundation and carried it 100 yards away, USA Today reported.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “The deck’s still there.”
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