View from Coast Guard helicopter shows staggering amount of devastation in Hurricane Michael's wake

View from above of Michael's destruction
View from above of Michael's destruction 02:25

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Hurricane Michael toppled trees and downed power lines in Florida, making made some roads impassable. The only way to reach some people stranded by the storm was from the air. 

CBS News took a ride with a Coast Guard team from Detroit and saw a staggering amount of devastation.

So far, crews have rescued 34 and assisted more than 200 others.

On the ground, the slow recovery has begun. East Point business owner Michael Millender, who rode out the storm at home, said he's lucky to be alive.

"We've been blessed over here. The rest of them, you know, there's a lot of them lost lives, I've heard. A lot of people's concerned, and everybody's worried," Millender said.

After Michael cut a destructive path through Panama City, hundreds of utility crews responded, ready to restore power.

"We were able to get out and drive around a little bit and some of the damage we'd seen -- it's just unbelievable," said James Byrd, with the Sarasota County Fire Department

The debris in one neighborhood stopped crews from reaching a gas line that ruptured during the height of the storm. On Friday, weary residents literally held their breath while gas company repairmen capped the leak.

"We don't have to breathe it anymore. That is just one more hazard that we didn't need," said Panama City resident Brooke Esposito.

The pilot who took CBS News around said he was inspired to join the U.S. Coast Guard after watching its response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Just like with that storm, emergency officials expect to get even more help in the coming days from people across the country.

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    Jericka Duncan is a national correspondent based in New York City and the anchor for Sunday's edition of the "CBS Weekend News."