Hurricane Michael is wreaking havoc in the Florida Panhandle, tearing homes apart and flooding streets as the strongest storm to hit the continental US since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Winds up to 150 mph splintered entire homes in Mexico Beach, near where Michael’s center crossed on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm.
Mexico Beach resident Patricia Mulligan compared the high winds and devastation to what she experienced in Miami in 1992 when Andrew hit. And she estimated that it would take the same amount of time to fix the damage — weeks or possibly months or years.
Similar scenes of downed trees and power lines are playing out across the region. Streets are flooding in the Panhandle city of Apalachicola. In Panama City Beach, winds of about 100 mph tore siding from one building and the roof off another, as high winds and storm surges wrought havoc.
In addition to concerns of flash flooding and storm surges up to 14 feet high, not just in the Panhandle but in southern Alabama and Georgia, a tornado watch has been issued by the Storm Prediction Center for much of northern Florida and south and central Georgia until 2 a.m. ET Thursday.
Michael was downgraded to Category 3 about 5 p.m. Wednesday, which means it is still considered a major storm with maximum sustained winds up to 129 mph.