Monday, 22 October, 2018

Hurricane Michael Leaves Trail Of Devastation In Florida

Hurricane Michael now Category 4, expected to do ‘catastrophic’ damage to Florida Gulf Coast Michael Upgraded To Category 4 'Major' Hurricane As It Approaches Florida Panhandle
Kristen Harrington | 11 October, 2018, 20:09

Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Florida Panhandle to reach trapped people in Michael's wake Thursday as daylight yielded scenes of rows upon rows of houses smashed to pieces by the third-most powerful hurricane on record to hit the continental U.S.

"There is unbelievable devastation", Florida Governor Rick Scott said on CNN.

Although Tallahassee avoided a direct hit from the Category 4 storm, Mayor Andrew Gillum said on Facebook that "our community has been pretty significantly impacted". "Thousands of trees gave way to the tropical storm force winds".

After initially maintaining hurricane strength while barreling inland through Georgia, Michael had weakened to tropic storm status by Thursday morning while churning northeast over SC with maximum winds of 50 miles per hour. Michael pushed a 10-foot (3-meter) storm surge and 155 miles per hour (249 kph) winds, just shy of a Category 5 hurricane, and Mexico Beach got the worst of it.

In its discussion, the center said the environment ahead of Michael was conducive to intensification. "The center of Michael is then expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday, and move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday". Homes were swallowed in storm surge. Potentially catastrophic wind damage will occur along the coast, with unsafe winds affecting areas further north, including southern Georgia and southeast Alabama.

Michael was the fourth hurricane to make landfall in the U.S.as a Category 4 storm in the past 14 months. "It looks like another big one".

The governor activated 750 National Guardsmen for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before.

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The NHC says some coastal regions can expect 9 to 13 feet of storm surge, as the hurricane's winds drive a wall of water onto the low-lying shore.

Al Hancock, 45, who works on a tour boat, survived in Panama City with his wife and dog.

"The storm surge is absolutely deadly".

"When the water came in houses started floating", said the man identified as Scott.

Voluntary evacuations were also ordered for Santa Rosa, Hernando, Leon and Liberty counties. "We had the inside windows kind of barricaded in with mattresses", Beu said. Only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the so-called Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys were more intense.

FEMA administrator Brock Long said Thursday that Mexico Beach "took the brunt" of the storm and is "probably ground zero", per The Washington Post.

For residents who want to leave, local authorities are stressing timely evacuation, too. You can not hide from this storm.

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Travis Brooks, Director of Seminole County's emergency management agency, told ABC News there was "complete and total devastation". The National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings in Georgia as Hurricane Michael pushed through the state, and local media report three of them may have touched down.

Schools and state offices in the area are to remain shut this week.

4 P.M. What the Hurricane Center has been predicting has come to pass - Hurricane Michael has strengthened into a major hurricane.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday: "We are very well prepared for the incoming hurricane".

Florida Fish and Wildlife has put 40 additional law enforcement officers on notice to deploy with a variety of special equipment, including boats that can be used for high-water rescues.

Michael's winds remain at 110 miles per hour and the storm continues to move north-northwest at 12 miles per hour.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left widespread destruction and wasn't finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia toward the Carolinas, a region still reeling from epic flooding in Hurricane Florence.

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