Even as the swells began to grow more angry on Panama City Beach, last-minute gawkers still flocked to the tourist hub, past the rows of kitschy miniature golf courses, deserted oyster restaurants and empty condo buildings.
On Wednesday morning, Hurricane Michael was a dangerous Category 4 storm heading toward the Florida Panhandle, with sustained winds at 145 mph that are expected to strengthen as the day progresses. If it lands as a Cat 4, Michael will be the first in the Panhandle since records started — and there is a possibility it will grow to a Cat 5.
Randy Simmons, 57, was enjoying his morning coffee on the deck of his condo overlooking the beach. He came to check on his property before retreating to another property he owns a couple miles inland. “I was going to stay here until it go to a Category 4,” Simmons said. “This is going to be a big mess.”
Simmons turn his left forearm over to reveal his name written in big black letters, just in case rescuers needed to identify him. “You just never what’s going to happen in these situations,” he said. “People do die.”