Michael Bobbitt, a resident on Florida's Cedar Key island, sent his loved ones away before Hurricane Idalia hit - but he chose to stay behind.
"I'm still here now," he told the BBC on Wednesday morning.
"Our entire downtown is underwater. Part of a whole hotel just broke apart and went into the Gulf," Mr Bobbitt said.
"It's like the Gulf is trying to swallow us up."
Strong winds combined with a storm surge have toppled trees, submerged homes and flooded roads.
In the days ahead of the hurricane, officials had warned residents to evacuate, more than 1.5 million people across 28 counties.
At a press conference on Wednesday morning, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis said: "If you end up with a storm surge that even approaches 16 feet, the chance of surviving that is not great. You would need to be even like on a three-story building, because it's going to rise very, very highly," he said.
But Mr Bobbitt said he could not leave the island - and the people - he loves behind.
"It was never a question about whether I would stay or go," Mr Bobbitt said.
Cedar Key is connected to mainland Florida by a series of bridges, which Mr Bobbitt said are now all "completely underwater".
"There's no help coming," he said. "It'll be days before trucks can even make it to the island."
For now, Mr Bobbitt is sheltering on the second floor of his two-storey home. He said he has no electricity, but he does have a generator - and a boat.
"I'm gonna get a motorboat here in the water shortly, so I can get to some of the outlying areas of the island to make sure that there are no old people stuck or in need of help," he said.