Before-and-after photos show how Hurricane Michael laid waste to a Florida beach community

WATCH: The death toll following Hurricane Michael has risen to at least 12 people after the storm left a path of destruction from Florida to Virginia.

Michael, the strongest hurricane to hit the continential U.S in. 50 years, has come and gone, leaving plenty of damage in its wake.

Some of the worst damage is plenty evident at Mexico Beach, a community located along the Florida Panhandle, where the storm first hit.

Coverage of Hurricane Michael on

The system, which has been blamed for at least seven deaths, hit the mainland as a Category 4 hurricane with winds reaching maximum speeds of 250 km/h and a storm surge reaching up to 2.7 metres high.

Satellite images provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show a path of destruction right through Mexico Beach, with buildings levelled and debris strewn far and wide.

Those images form a marked contrast with what Mexico Beach looked like before the storm hit: an idyllic seaside town with sand, palm trees and homes looking out to the Gulf of Mexico.

Here are some before-and-after photos that illustrate the damage in Mexico Beach — swipe right for before, swipe left for after:

Michael levelled homes throughout Mexico Beach, leaving only concrete slabs in some areas.

Other homes were left in pieces — still others, slumping at strange angles.

Just under 300 people decided to remain, despite an evacuation order.

READ MORE: Michael becomes strongest hurricane to hit continental U.S. in 50 years, at least 7 killed

Rescue personnel spent Thursday looking for survivors amid the damage, using drones, dogs and GPS to find them.

“We prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” said Stephanie Palmer, a FEMA firefighter and rescuer.

“This is obviously the worst.”

  • With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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