‘Hell’ – What being in the eye of the storm feels like

It is hard to describe what it is like to be in the middle of a storm of such historic proportions.

Probably like standing behind a jet engine, while inside a washing machine, is the best I can do.

Hurricane Michael was only just shy of a category five storm when it roared ashore in Florida.

It was an intense experience.

The disconcerting shaking, the terrifying noise, the sheer awesome power of nature that we witnessed from a hotel lobby as the windows bulged and the roof covering disappeared bit by bit.

The Stars and Stripes, ripped from its flagpole, was one of the last things to go.

Image: Hurricane Michael arrived in Florida just short of category five strength

Every bit of debris you can imagine was flying around, each a potentially deadly missile.

At the height of the storm, you could see nothing through the windows but a virtual white-out.

A handful of guests took shelter – and everyone wondered what would be left when the storm passed.

Before Michael arrived, we had spoken to residents on Molitor Avenue, the ones who had decided not to leave.

Some thought their homes could withstand the storm, others thought it wouldn't be that bad.

Jason lives in Panama City, Florida, and stayed during the hurricane
Image: Jason Roper stayed behind for his elderly neighbours

Jason Roper said he was staying because he had elderly neighbours who had not been able to evacuate their homes. "They need me to stay," he said.

A few hours later, after Michael had passed, he told me that those moments in the grip of the storm had been "indescribable, hell".

Would he stay next time? "Yes and no. You look after the ones you love, brother."

Most of those who thought their houses would withstand the storm? They were right. Even if some had the odd tree or two rearranged.

Aaron in his damaged apartment after Hurricane Michael
Image: Aaron Reasonover had to jump to safety from his apartment

Aaron Reasonover did what you are supposed to do when a tornado, not a hurricane, hits: retreat to the bathroom and sit in the bath.

He reckoned without the power of Michael ripping the roof from his second floor apartment and dumping it on the house next door. Aaron had to jump to safety.

Panama City, Florida, after Hurricane Michael
Image: Panama City, Florida, has been left devastated after Hurricane Michael

All over Panama City, downed electricity wires criss-cross streets. Bits of roof, signs and fences are scattered far and wide.

Before police began to enforce a night time curfew, residents emerged blinking into the post-Michael calm to survey the damage.

More from Florida

Other coastal communities also suffered extensive damage. Mexico Beach, close to where the eye of the storm made landfall, saw homes flattened. The widely-predicted storm surge added to the problems there.

There have been plenty of lucky escapes in Florida. It will be some time before we know the full story of what Michael has done here.

Original Article

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