Power outages were reported across the region on Thursday, creating further challenges for residents and travelers alike.
In Panama City, Fla., on Thursday morning, hotel phones went unanswered, even at the area’s major chain hotels like Holiday Inn and the Hilton. Airbnb has activated its “Open Homes” program, which allows local Airbnb hosts to open their homes to evacuees for free.
The Florida Panhandle at this time of year is normally a haven for savvy travelers who have timed their vacation to land during the shoulder season. The area’s white sand beaches and emerald waters are some of the most beloved vacation spots in the region for residents of the Gulf Coast.
But by Thursday morning, the storm’s damage made clear that some of the area’s most sought-after beaches had been significantly changed. Mexico Beach, Fla., a sleepy beach community along a quiet strip of white sand — which locals often describe as being akin to white sugar — was particularly hard hit by the storm. Images of the community showed utter destruction, with entire blocks of homes completely wiped out, leaving only driftwood behind.