In Mexico Beach, population 1,000, resident Tessa Talarico said all that remained from one nearby home was a sea of debris floating in the floodwaters. She wrote on Instagram that, from her vantage point, all of the nearby houses were submerged at one point.
When winds reached 140 mph, Talarico noted that visibility reduced dramatically and she could "barely see anything."
Its winds shrieking, the Category 4 storm crashed ashore in the early afternoon near Mexico Beach, a tourist town about midway along the Panhandle, a lightly populated, 200-mile stretch of white-sand beach resorts, fishing towns and military bases.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.