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When Hurricane Michael threatened the Florida Panhandle with howling winds and dangerous surf, residents experienced damage to the storm in the popular resort of Panama City Beach.
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"The resort next to us has been completely demolished," said Lisa Dawn Parker, 51, who has been living in Panama City Beach for almost three years, eradicating the storm in a friend's apartment on the beach with her boyfriend.
"The windows are blown out" The whole front is gone, "she said in a telephone interview with NBC News on Wednesday after the storm.
" We did not think it would be worse than [hurricane] Ivan, " she said, "We do not know why we stayed here."
She said there was "a great deal of wind and debris," and "the rest of the beach was ravaged by waves. The water looks like it's up the dunes from here.
The Hurricane had a maximum sustained winds of 155 mph on Wednesday morning, making it a Category 4 – but since then it has been downgraded to tropical storm, killing two people, including an 11-year-old child after the Tropical Storm Michael was the strongest hurricane in recorded history in the Florida Panhandle, with nearly 326,000 customers in Florida and more than 334,000 others in Georgia and Alabama reportedly out of power.
"I've been here all my life and have never seen one The water at the end of the pier hit that way "Mike," said the Mayor of Panama City Beach, MSNBC, before the storm landed Wednesday afternoon near Mexico Beach, a sparsely populated city about 28 miles southeast.
He said he was disheartened that some of the city's 12,000 residents are not evacuated in time and instead chosen shelter on the spot. Even if they wanted, all the bridges in the county were kept insecure and closed on Wednesday afternoon.
"If you live in a beautiful place, there's always a problem with that, and that's really nice, even now … it's just a shame [the hurricane is] so destructive," said Thomas.
The resort on the Gulf Coast – and the larger destination of neighboring Panama City – has attracted vacationers and Spring Break parties for decades, its emerald green waters and its sugar sand. Last year, 17 million visitors were counted in Panama City Beach, which contributed $ 2.8 billion in economic activity in March according to a local tourism report.
MTV's spin-off "Jersey Shore," "Floribama Shore," is also being filmed in Panama City Beach
Michael is now the first size threat that has hit the area since records began more than 165 years ago. Since then, no Category 4 or higher storm has hit the Florida Panhandle, researchers say.
In addition, Michael's top landing winds were the fourth-strongest since the onset of a hurricane that shook the American mainland behind Andrew in 1992. Camille in 1969 and the largest – an unnamed storm in 1935.
Observers are concerned this will rip up pockets of the esteemed shoreline, part of a larger 100-mile stretch called the Emerald Coast. High-rise condos and houses dot the beaches.
"This will absolutely devastate Panama City Beach," said Jason Senkbeil, a university professor of Alabama geography, who has researched hurricane evacuees.
Abnormal The warm waters in this October's Gulf have fueled this hurricane.
"There is a lot of damage in my neighborhood," said Sarah Shelley, a lifelong lawyer from Panama City near Panama City Beach, in a telephone interview with MSNBC (19659005) "We did not expect it so quickly Strong, "she said, although she added that her home is in a" beautiful area ". Outsider de of flood zones. Still, her porch and carport blew away in the fierce winds, she said.
Like many in the region, Shelley lost her power, but she said they had food and water, and her parents living on the street have a motorhome they can cook food, if necessary, as a result of the hurricane.
Besides tourism, Senkbeil said the local agriculture, which includes peanuts and cotton, could now suffer because it's harvest time.
"It will give a high dollar value in terms of economic farm loss," he added.
In addition, the area is laced with two-lane roads and pines. Strong winds could block access to roads and lonely fishing villages.
"These pines are tall and thin, and they snap like twigs under 150 mph winds," said Senkbeil.
Osama Albibi said he, his wife and three young children were evacuated from Panama City Beach to Panama City on Tuesday night to stay with a family from the storm.
Albibi, a 40-year-old treasury adviser with Merrill Lynch, said he is most concerned about his parents, both 68, who decided to stay in Panama City Beach. Her home is about 12 feet above sea level – but the storm surge is said to exceed that.
"I feel they may take it a bit light," said Albibi. "I tried to explain to them that this does not resemble any kind of hurricane."
In Southport, Florida, north of Panama City, Daniel Dean described widespread damage and debris.
"There are trees – I mean trees on trees atop trees on trees – they're just piled on the streets," Dean said in a telephone interview on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon. "There are power lines crossing the street," he said.
"Right now in Southport it's just catastrophic … we have garage doors that have been hit," he said, adding that the entire roof of a church was being demolished.
"There are floods everywhere," said Dean. "I've never seen anything like it in my life in the panhandle region."
In Callaway, a town of about 14,000 inhabitants east of Panama City, Doug Jones was in his house when a tree fell on it (19659005) "I was in the living room and heard a huge crackling noise," Jones, 50, who is a traffic engineer for Bay County and said he stays because he is at work, he said telephone interview. "Suddenly the roof came down and I had to jump into the hall so it would not hit me."
"I'm trying to save what I can, the house can be rebuilt, but our photos and everything are getting soaked," Jones said, becoming emotional.
Although Jones is a Florida native who has experienced many, many hurricanes, he said the storm was particularly bad.
"This is the worst hurricane I've ever done," Jones said.