Under a perfectly clear blue sky, Florida families emerged tentatively from darkened shelters and hotels to an unfamiliar and perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.
VIDEO: Aerial footage of damage to Panama City area
Using a drone, ABC News captured aerial footage of the scene over Panama City Beach. An Associated Press team also surveyed the destruction in the Panama City area.
AP described it this way: "Downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled away and sent airborne. Aluminum siding was shredded to ribbons. Homes were split open by fallen trees."
The storm has left more than 900,000 people without power. It is expected to move through North Carolina and Virginia before going offshore on Thursday or Friday.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.