Transcript for Surviving Michael and the devastation left behind
this morning. We begin with the monumental recovery efforts facing Florida’s panhandle in the wake of devastating hurricane Michael. The damage just defying description. This, you see these aerial views. It’s been really emotional to see the families affected. Search and rescue crews have fanned out into those destroyed neighborhoods looking for survivors who rode out the storm in homes, hotels and other buildings that are now a tangle of debris. And caravans of utility workers are in the disaster zone working on restoring power. Here’s what we know so far. At least 17 people confirmed dead across the south from the storm. More than 1.3 million people are in the dark across six states and more than 4,000 people still in shelters this morning. We have team coverage on Michael’s aftermath. First let’s go to rob Marciano in Panama City with a look at one spot that was nearly wiped off the map. Good morning, rob. Good morning, Eva. Here we are, day three of hurricane Michael aftermath and scenes like this behind me are all over the place. Commercial buildings, residential buildings, thousands of them damaged or completely destroyed. This entire area around Panama City for the most part is crippled but obviously in the hardest hit areas there is still a huge rush to search for victims. This morning, a massive cleanup and search and rescue effort under way. Bolt cutters, pry bars, sledgehammers. Anything else you may need? Reporter: Michael making landfall here in Mexico beach, Florida, pummeling this quaint Oceanside town with a 14-foot storm surge and 155-mile-per-hour winds. This is where the wind and surge was greatest. The water ripping these homes off their foundations and carrying them in some cases hundreds of yards inland. The stronger, higher buildings remain, but the expanse of the damage is mind-boggling. The water just came from the canal and started getting higher about five feet inside the houses. The only thing you could at that moment is swim. Reporter: Daniel reluctantly deciding to ride out the storm with his wife and their dog Leo. You give up at a point. You realize that there’s nothing — you are now in god’s hands and a calm actually kind of comes over you but you’re terrified. Reporter: These before and after aerial images showing the sweeping extent of the devastation. The area looking akin to a war zone with entire neighborhoods leveled. On the ground, ominous smoke detector beeps coming from homes reduced to piles of debris. Believe it or not, there are still people within these buildings. Reporter: Overnight the city’s first confirmed fatality. Now time running out to get help and critical services to others who stayed behind. You have individuals that were here and okay at first but now two, three, four days have gone by and they realize they have no food and no water and what wasn’t an emergent condition now becomes one. Reporter: The town’s police department of only eight officers hit badly by the storm. We don’t have a building. It’s my understanding that the water surge moved it off its foundation. Reporter: Residents surveying the damage. Like everybody we know lost their house, everybody and our jobs. It’s devastation. Like a bomb just went off. Reporter: Farther inland Gail sweet tragically losing her husband to the storm when a tree fell on their house. It was just like a freight train coming at us. Reporter: The tree pinning the couple down and seriously injuring Gail’s husband. I told him hold on. Just hold on. I’m calling for help now. Reporter: But the storm preventing first responders from getting there this time. They got me out but he was already gone by the time I got here. Reporter: Back on the coast near Mexico beach, tyndall air force base taking a direct hit. Michael shredding this hangar’s roof but military crews already on the ground Friday as cargo planes arrived with much needed supplies. And, of course, getting that military operation back operational is of key importance. I can tell you after surveying much of the damage here along the coastline in my 20 years of covering storms, I have never seen wind damage like this from a hurricane. It is literally like an ef2 or ef3 tornado 20 or 30 miles wide. So, when you hear these survivor stories, by, they are just heart-wrenching and frightening. For more let’s get to will Carr live for us in destin, Florida. Good morning to you, will. Reporter: Good morning, rob. A lot of people tell us they were caught off guard by the shear power of this storm. When it was a category 1 they felt fine staying but when it jumped to a cat 4 they didn’t have time to leave. Now this morning we’re hearing their harrowing stories of survival. This morning, you’re about to meet two hurricane survivors who wished they left when they could have. It was a life-or-death situation. I don’t think any of us expected the storm to do the kind of damage it did. Reporter: John pandullo like so many others chose to ignore evacuation orders and ride out the storm. The hurricane gutted his home. The ceiling is gone. It started falling all around me. Reporter: That’s when he grabbed his dog Rosie and ran into the bedroom closet. I was just like this, me and the dog. I was right here sitting just like and the dog was right here and would not leave my side and would not move. Reporter: Miraculously the two escaped unharmed. Crews now pulling survivors to safety from the air while going door to door with canines on the ground. We were just surprised by the sheer damage. This type of destruction we haven’t seen since I was a kid and that was hurricane Andrew. This is pretty extensive. Reporter: Down the road the walls on a large church stripped away. Amazingly the cross on top still standing, the building and communities surrounded by thousands of downed trees. This morning, crews desperately working to restore power to more than a million people in six states. It’s sad, you know, that we don’t get to keep our stuff, you know, but I mean it’s just stuff and I’m glad that I’m alive and my dog made it alive. Reporter: Really an amazing story especially when you saw how he rode out that storm in the closet. He says he relied on faith during the peak of the storm and if he could do it again he would evacuate when he could have. Guy, back to you. Thank you so much, will. You think about the people, you think about the amount of damage there, some people have compared this to a war zone, completely flattening neighborhoods but also tyndall air force base completely desoyed, home to several fighter jets. One thing to remember too, people went to bed thinking this was a category 2 and decided not to evacuate then woke up, cat 4, too late to get out. Not just their homes but the businesses, everything is gone. We’ll have to wait for a complete damage report and how much this is going to cost to clean up. Thank you so much to all of our teams there covering that story
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.