A single house, perched along the Mexico Beach shore, has virtually withstood the fury of Hurricane Michael, which has claimed at least 19 lives
Hurricane Michael “wiped out” Mexico Beach, Florida, last week after touching down as a Category 4 storm. Packing 155 mph winds, the storm showed no mercy to the beachfront city, destroying homes and businesses.
But a single house, perched along the shore, has virtually withstood the fury of the deadly storm that has claimed at least 19 lives.
“Hurricanes happen and so we intended to build it to survive,” Dr. Lebron Lackey, who built the concrete vacation home with his uncle, Russell King, told ABC News. During construction last year, Lackey added, he and his uncle went “overboard to preserve the structure.”
Photos show the home surrounded by destruction. The mostly white house appears in good shape, except for a small patch of damage to the roof. Around the home, debris and the remains of toppled houses filled the streets, completely covering parts of a nearby road.
Lackey told ABC that he didn’t expect the house to survive the storm. He monitored the newly-built residence’s security camera from his home in Tennessee, he said.
“I was watching the corner of the roof buck like an airplane wing,” he recalled to the outlet. “I was watching the air pass by with debris in it about the speed of which you’d expect to see in an airplane.”
He and King built the ground floor with tall pilings, to help in the midst of a storm surge, he told ABC. They added thick 1-foot thick concrete walls and steel cables to hold the roof in place. With that, the house remained intact as Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc on the small city.
Other residents weren’t so fortunate.
“We don’t have a building — from my understanding, the water surge moved it off its foundation,” Police Chief Anthony Kelly told ABC News of the town’s police headquarters. “The officers, I finally made accountability of them all today, two days after the fact. … They’re not just my officers, the people that I work with, they’re my family.”
Amid the chaos after the storm, several families were desperately searching for their loved ones. Some drove to the city and others posted on rescue message boards to get in contact with their loved ones.
As people in the region take shelter where they can and line up for food and water, loved ones search for news of those they lost contact with.
“I’ve been trying to find my son Jacob” in Panama City, Kimberly Torres of Houston, Texas, previously told PEOPLE. “We haven’t heard from him since before the hurricane. I’m so scared. I’m totally devastated.”
Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey told local media that over 40 people were missing on Sunday in Mexico Beach, according to the Associated Press.
“It’s chaos,” George Ruiz, a former Coast Guard rescue boat driver who runs the nonprofit search and rescue operation Geaux Rescue, previously told PEOPLE. “People are desperate for news of their loved ones.”
At least 19 people have died as a result of the storm, including three in North Carolina, nine in Florida, six in Virginia and one in Georgia, according to CNN. Among the 19, two confirmed deaths have been reported in Mexico Beach, according to CNN.