‘I never would have stayed’

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Gregg Ebersole trekked to the Panama City Marina from his devastated neighborhood on Thursday morning to find a miraculous sight: Nestled amid the twisted metal on the damaged dock was his boat, just as he had left it on a rack.

“Everything is tossed around like it’s a toy,” said Ebersole, surveying the aftermath. “Mine is sitting there all nice and pretty.”

It was a small dose of comfort after Hurricane Michael thrashed the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday and blew apart much in its path. Ebersole’s single-story brick home survived, but he said he was caught flat-footed by the report that Michael had intensified into a powerful Category 4 storm quickly as it guzzled warm water on its advance up the Gulf of Mexico.

“If I knew it was going to be a Cat 4 with a direct hit, I never would have stayed,” Ebersole said. “Two days ago, we were out boating in the sunshine. This snuck up on us so quick.”

He added that he had advice for those thinking of riding out such a violent storm: “Don’t do it. Get out.”

Michael, a brute of a hurricane that brought a storm surge of up to 14 feet and ferocious 155-mph winds, became the first Category 4 to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle.

Kerry Sanders and Erik Ortiz
2018-10-11 16:19:00

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