FLORIDA — Six days after Hurricane Michael roared ashore, wreaking havoc on the Florida Panhandle, a bit of good news has emerged in hard-hit Mexico Beach.
On Monday, authorities announced both that residents can begin returning home this week and that the estimate for the number of people unaccounted for has been lowered from at least 30 to three.
Mexico Beach took the hardest punch when the storm made landfall six days ago.
Besides the widespread destruction, town police say two people were killed there, including one whose body was found Monday.
After standing by for days as authorities worked to secure the area and complete search and rescue, Mexico Beach residents learned that they can return home on Wednesday.
About 280 of the town’s 1,200 residents had said they planned to ride out the storm, but the mayor said many fled at the last minute when Michael quickly gained strength.
Authorities initially said they could not account for 30 to 35 people, but police lowered that number to three missing.
In a post on its official Facebook page, the city said that residents would be allowed to return if they have proof of residence or photo identification. Property owners and insurance adjusters will also be allowed into the city. An evening curfew will remain in place until further notice.
City Manager Tanya Castor had earlier said residents would be allowed back in Tuesday.