MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WCCO) — It will likely be months or years before Mexico Beach, Florida, returns to its new normal. The city took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael.

“I am totally shocked at what it’s done to our entire town,” said Al Cathey, mayor of Mexico Beach.

Cathey says he hardly recognizes the city he’s called home for 65 years.

The damage is widespread throughout the Florida panhandle and everyone is feeling the effects, like Hector Morales, who had planned to ride out the storm in his mobile home.

“It got about five feet of water inside the house, so the only choice that I had was to jump in front of that front window,” said Morales, a resident of Mexico Beach.

Michael also made its way through Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia leaving behind more destruction, especially for cotton and pecan farmers.

Lawton Pearson is a pecan farmer in Georgia. He said his farm lost 200 trees and he says he was one of the lucky ones.

“We fear it’s going to be pretty severe for our industry,” Pearson said. “It’s going to set us back a long, long way — 10-20 years.”

More than 100 Red Cross volunteers from Minnesota have been deployed to help hurricane victims.

There are still ways to help. Donations are currently being accepted by the American Red Cross. Call 800-542-9226 to donate.

Your donations will go toward relief services like safe shelter, providing meals, and cleanup kits.

Bill Hudson