Local

Tiny Mexico Beach takes brunt of monster storm

10/11/2018, 07:31am

Haley Nelson inspects damages to her family properties in the Panama City, Fla., spring field area after Hurricane Michael made landfall. | Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Fires still burned in the early morning darkness the day after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, a Florida Gulf Coast beach town that doesn’t usually get much attention. Michael pushed a 10-foot storm surge and 155 mph winds, just shy of a Category 5 hurricane, and Mexico Beach got the worst of it.

A reporter and photojournalist from the Tampa Bay Times ventured there in the dark early Thursday, finding the town of about 1,000 almost impassable. They reported seeing many destroyed homes, some with staircases leading to doors suspended 10 feet in the air with nothing on the other side, entire structures washed away. Refrigerators and toilets and piles of soggy furniture are strewn across properties.

And amid the wreckage, the crew spotted survivors — people who rode out the storm. One couple was looking for their mother’s portable oxygen machine. Another man was shining a flashlight from his balcony as alarms sounded and fires burned.

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