Kimberly Kennedy’s wedding is a little over a week away, but it might have to be delayed thanks to Hurricane Michael.
The deadly Category 4 storm has caused catastrophic devastation in the Florida Panhandle, where it touched down on Wednesday — its 155 mph. winds and 13 foot storm surges demolishing property after property in its path.
Mexico Beach took a direct hit. Kennedy took shelter there in a concrete condo building blocks away alongside ABC News’ chief meteorologist Ginger Zee, the two surveying the damage from the balcony of their high-rise in footage that aired on Thursday’s Good Morning America.
Her wedding is supposed to be on Oct. 20, the ceremony and reception taking place at a historic building just 12 miles away in Port St. Joe, Florida.
But she might not have anything for it. The home where she was housing all of the supplies for her wedding — including her wedding dress — was in Mexico Beach. And from the window, a fearful Kennedy could see neighboring homes get blown away or flooded.
“Everything I have for my wedding is in that house,” Kennedy told Zee on Good Morning America. “It’s probably flooded or gone.”
That house was actually the home of longtime friend and groomsman Mark Parker. He told GMA that Kennedy and her husband Jason Kennedy had eloped in 2017, and “had been saving their money to have a perfect wedding.”
“I’m four blocks off the beach,” Parker explained. “I just saw a post on Facebook and the street leading to my house, they were going down it with a boat. I’m sure we probably got flooded, at the very least.”
“The devastation is just horrible,” he continued to GMA. “It looks like half the town is gone. … It’s just such a beautiful place with great people. Everyone is so tight-knit there, even if someone didn’t get hit, it’s like they got hit.”
Florida residents in this area haven’t seen a hurricane of this strength in their lifetimes. According to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, tropical scientist at Colorado State University, the Gulf Coast has never recorded a Category 4-plus hurricane landfall in records dating back to 1851.
More than 486,000 were without power in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas in the wake of the storm’s landfall, according to CNN.
Of all the damage, Mexico Beach might have gotten hit the worst. The area, which is home to 1,200 people, appeared to be completely flattened in helicopter video posted by a storm chaser on WX Chasing. The footage showed debris of houses strewn across the ground, structures leveled or sunk into the water, boats dislodged, trees damaged and roads obstructed.
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“Mexico Beach was wiped out,” FEMA administrator William “Brock” Long said, according to CNN — adding, “that’s probably ground zero.”
“You are going to see a lot of destruction when the rescue crews get into Mexico Beach,” added Sen. Bill Nelson, according to CNN. “That’s where you’re going to see the extreme, extreme devastation.”
At a press conference recorded by the Associated Press, Gov. Rick Scott said on Thursday that the Florida National Guard entered Mexico Beach on Wednesday night and “made contact with about 20 residents that thankfully were not injured or in distress.”
So far, at least 11 people have died from Hurricane Michael, The New York Times reported. Officials have warned that the death toll could rise amid search and rescue efforts as the storm continues on.