Businesses and homeowners are struggling in areas like Panama City after Hurricane Michael destroyed thousands of homes and buildings on Florida’s Gulf Coast

The deadly Category 4 storm left its mark before moving into Georgia, and then the Carolinas as a dangerous tropical storm.

It’s been two weeks since George Nepereny took shelter in his garage. Hurricane Michael left major damage to his and other homes around Parker, Florida, which is east of Panama City. 

“I equate this to Vietnam,” the NC State alum and Army veteran said. “This looks like an Arc Light went through here. A B-52 bombing raid, where you’d watch those B-52s coming and drop the Arc Lights. you see big, huge mahogany trees doing cartwheels.” 

Joe Ed Hutchinson was concerned about the home he and his wife built 53 years ago. 

“I was praying to the Lord,” he said. 

While the storm damaged his roof, he’s thinking of others impacted. 

“There’s a lot of people that really got hurt on this,” Hutchinson said. “I hope that everyone that was unfortunate has a good fortune.” 

But now, he and others like Durham native Clayborn Brown are looking ahead with power back on in their homes Wednesday afternoon. 

“It’s just like seeing daylight again,” Brown said. 

Nepereny added that he recalls seeing FEMA officials for the first time checking on neighbors Tuesday.