Hours after Hurricane Michael devastated Bay County and its neighbors to the east, authorities were still trying to grasp the magnitude of destruction.

The storm came in squarely on Tyndall Air Force Base with winds of 155 mph, causing severe damage to the base as well as the communities on either side of it.

In the immediate aftermath, citizens were reporting extensive damage to numerous structures, including some that were leveled by the storm.

“It looks like an atomic bomb had hit our city,” said David Barnes, a DJ in Panama City. “Damage has been widespread.”

Among the heavily damaged buildings was the Panama City News Herald building on 11th Street in the city.

“It smells like fresh wood in Panama City because everything has fallen,” said Katie Landeck, one of the paper’s managing editors. She said she and other staff members were in a state of “dull shock."

“Everywhere you go, you hear alarms endlessly ringing because there's no one to shut them off, and it doesn't matter,” she added.

As of about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday about, 99,000 of Gulf Power’s more than 103,000 customers in the greater Bay County area were without electricity, company spokesman Jeff Rogers said.

While company officials don’t know the extent of damage to the company’s infrastructure in the Panama City area yet, it’s expected to take at least a week to restore power for many customers there, he said.

“At first light, crews will be traveling from their staging areas to find out the extent of the damage,” Rogers said.

At least one fatality was reported from the storm, but others may follow.

“It’s a very bad situation over there,” Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson said, adding that some of his personnel lived over there and suffered property damage.

He said he and other departments from across Florida had staff on standby, waiting to find out how they could help.

There were reports that the Bay County Emergency Operations Center was down, and Adkinson said he'd been unable to reach Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford in the first six hours after the storm. It was not clear at press time if the two had later made contact.

The state EOC confirmed that they had contact with officials in Bay County but could provide no additional information.

Worried family members took to social media, pleading for someone to check on loved ones or to help those who were trapped in the aftermath.

“The area is destroyed and no response from our family,” one person tweeted, giving their family member's pre-storm location.

“Please help,” was the subject line on another tweet. “A friend’s mother and roommate had two trees fall on their trailer. If anyone can help, please please please do.”

Mary Rose rode out the storm with her cat in a senior living complex in Panama City.

She said she heard the “popping sounds” of trees falling down and that the wind blew the glass out of doors.

“We were told to evacuate, but my circumstances don’t allow me to at this point,” she said. “It was really scary, actually. And it’s lonely.”

She said she and other senior citizens were stuck there with the roads impassable because of debris. They were worried about running out of water if they were there longer than a few days, she said.

“That’s kind of a plea for help,” she said. “Other than that, we are grateful that we’re fine and we thank God that we are. We have been praying.”

The lack of information, coupled with the vivid media coverage of the storm, frightened Angela Wolf. The Idaho woman had heard briefly from her daughter, who rode out the storm in Lynn Haven with her husband and two children.

“I heard it’s terrible,” she said. “They’re OK. They lost windows but they managed to survive in a closet with a mattress.”

Some folks reported damage from tornadoes during the storm, but the National Weather Service in Tallahassee said they were not yet aware of any tornadic activity.

“Given the strength of the hurricane – it came ashore as a Category 4 – the damage a Category 4 is capable of is comparable to a higher end tornado,” meteorologist Lance Frank said.