Patricia Mulligan said she survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992 only to encounter the wrath of another storm Wednesday on the Florida Panhandle.
Mulligan and her family are riding out Hurricane Michael in their Mexico Beach condo. She said she moved to the popular seaside destination, about 20 miles east of Panama City Beach, less than three months ago.
As the Category 4 storm’s center crossed nearby, Mulligan said, the concrete building shook and vibrated against sustained winds around 155 mph. Water seeped into her fourth floor apartment.
When she dared to look outside, water levels were grazing the fronds of tall palm trees on the beach. Homes were swallowed in storm surge. Soon enough, Mexico Beach’s emerald waters and white sugar-sand beaches were covered in a dark sea of splintered debris, she said.
Michael ripped apart beach homes and boats, she said. As far as she could see, only one home was still intact. The rest were missing roofs or siding.
The marina her brother owns is submerged, she said. The docks are gone and several boats were capsized, including one belonging to her brother, she said.
“This is total devastation,” she told CNN. “We didn’t think it was going to be this bad.”
When asked why her family didn’t leave, she said she thought they were safe on the fourth floor of her building made of solid concrete. And her home is still standing, unlike others, she said.
But when she looks outside, she sees damage that reminds her of Andrew, damage that could take as long to rebound from.
“Same devastation. Same winds,” she said. “I would have to say at least as long as it did for Hurricane Andrew, and that tooks months and months. Could be even years.”