Neighbors hug Thursday in Mexico Beach. Their homes were heavily damaged by the storm.

Gov. Rick Scott said he could hardly believe the devastation spread out below him as far as the eye could see. So many lives and towns changed forever. 

Those with the governor Thursday in his helicopter fly-over of Mexico Beach told Sunshine State News there were long, silent periods during his flight when he appeared too choked up to talk.

Scott flew over some of the towns and cities where category 4 Michael left buildings collapsed and splintered, hospitals damaged, roads and water systems compromised and more than a million homes and businesses without electricity. His flight Thursday included Bristol, Chipley, St. George Island, Mexico Beach, Panama City Beach and Panama City. 

Scott said he was “so grateful” for the search-and-rescue teams that rushed to reach the communities that were leveled, hoping to find survivors of the powerful storm.

By afternoon, many areas still were cut off, but authorities were trying to deploy rescuers by helicopter and boat.

“This is a very dense part of the state, so it’s going to be a lot of work to get to everybody,” Scott said. “But we

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