It’s hard to imagine that just a few days ago, thousands of people were walking the sandy white beaches of the Florida panhandle, and soaking up the sun. Sure, there was talk of a hurricane that might make its way there as a Category 1, or possibly a Category 2, storm. But, it just seemed so unlikely, especially given the area’s history. Besides, even if it did make landfall along the Emerald Coast, it couldn’t be that bad, right? Wrong.

Having rapidly intensified from a Category 2 hurricane to a strong Category 4 (almost Category 5) one, Michael is now, sadly, a storm for the record books. In fact, it’s the only Category 4 hurricane to ever make landfall in the Florida Panhandle. It’s also one of the four (now ranked number three) strongest hurricanes ever recorded in U.S. history.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably wondering how this happened, especially with the end of the Atlantic Hurricane Season just around the corner (November 1st). Interestingly, and according to weather experts, Florida has had more hurricanes in October than in any other month. As for Hurricane Michael, several things—warm Gulf water, favorable wind conditions, and high humidity—all came together to create the “perfect storm,” or worst-case scenario.

Today, areas like Panama City Beach and Mexico Beach are reporting catastrophic destruction, and sadly, loss of life. Some are even referring to its aftermath as “apocalyptic.” Homes and businesses are seriously damaged or completely destroyed, and many streets, including major highways, are underwater. Trees are down, and hundreds of thousands of people are without power and other essentials. Unfortunately, it appears this could remain the case for days, if not weeks, due to the widespread devastation.

Damage from Michael, now a tropical storm, is far from over. The storm is now trekking northeastward, bringing heavy rain, high winds and spin-off tornadoes to Georgia and the Carolinas. Several watches and warnings are now in effect, particularly in areas already saturated by (and recovering from) Hurricane Florence.

On behalf of everyone at BOLDplanning, our thoughts are with you, the survivors of Hurricane Michael, as you work to rebuild your communities, your homes, and your lives. There will be better days ahead.