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As the sun rose a day after Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle, some people who rode out the storm got a first glance of their devastated neighborhoods while others awaited word on loved ones who didn’t evacuate.
What were once white-sand beach resorts and fishing towns had turned into flooded streets with flattened trees and ripped homes.
More than 500,000 customers had lost power in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, and some people hadn’t been able to reach loved ones since Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon.
Amid communications issues, the Florida Division of Emergency Management established a web page to report concerns for missing people.
Megan McCall couldn’t get a hold of her relatives north of Panama City in Alford, Florida. Her brother Jeff McCall, his wife, Kristi, their two children and his wife’s parents rode out the storm in their three-story home.
Megan McCall spoke to her brother Wednesday afternoon, and he said the weather was getting worse, she said. About 5 p.m., her brother called a friend and said the house was getting cracks on the wall and the sliding glass doors were blowing in and starting to break.
He told the friend the family had hunkered down in the basement, where the wind was not as bad. About 6:30 p.m. ET, McCall missed a call from her brother, and no one had heard from him since.
“I called him back about 45 minutes later, and the phone just rang and rang, which I thought was a good sign, but nobody answered. I kept calling back and eventually the calls started going straight to voicemail. I’m hoping his phone is just dead and not worse,” she said.
’I just need to know he’s OK’
McCall used social media to find a neighbor who lives across the street from her brother. The neighbor said all the docks in the area were destroyed, the roads were impassable and everyone was stuck in their homes.
She said the neighbor used binoculars to look across the lake at Jeff McCall’s home, and said the roof appeared to be intact. The neighbor told her the docks were destroyed, so evacuating by boat was impossible, and the power was out and cell service was mostly knocked out, too.
“I just need to know he’s OK. If the house and the cars are destroyed they can be replaced. … I would do anything to just know he’s OK,” she said.