Northern Florida Hit Hard By Powerful Hurricane Michael

Glen Mclaughlin
October 13, 2018

But most will have no home to go back to, since the photos show almost the entire peninsula on Mexico Beach wiped clean near the canal leading into the marina.

Some of the most devastating pictures came from the tiny city of Mexico Beach - southeast of Panama City. Michael left a trail of utility wires on roads, flattened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church.

Al Hancock, 45, who works on a tour boat, survived in Panama City with his wife and dog. "Thank God we're not seeing that as a critical need", Harris said.

Along the 322km Panhandle, Michael washed away white-sand beaches, hammered military bases and destroyed coastal communities, stripping trees to stalks, shredding roofs, toppling trucks and pushing boats into buildings. It was so scary youd poo yourself, said retiree Tom Garcia, 60, who was trapped inside his Mexico Beach home as water poured in to waist height.

Michael killed at least six people in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina from falling trees and other hurricane-related incidents, officials and local media said. It weakened steadily as it traveled inland over the Panhandle. As of Thursday evening, the storm was centered about five miles northwest of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

"As Tropical Storm Michael turns to the Commonwealth, I want to urge all Virginians to prepare for the serious possibility of flash floods, tropical storm force winds, tornadoes, and power outages", Northam said in a written release.

It was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved through the Carolinas, which are still recovering from last month's Hurricane Florence.

Nearly 1.1 million homes and businesses were without power from Florida to Virginia early on Friday, according to utility companies.

"We still haven't gotten into the hardest-hit areas", he said, adding with frustration: "Very few people live to tell what it's like to experience storm surge, and unfortunately in this country we seem to not learn the lesson".

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A Google Earth image before Hurricane Michael hit shows Cape San Blas Road and powdery beaches that draw tourists looking for low-key vacations.

Hurricane Michael underwent three periods of rapid intensification, said Haiyan Jiang, associate professor of meteorology at Florida International University.

"The wind that came through here was surreal". Due to the severity of the storm, responders did not get to the home until the overnight hours.

Five deaths were reported in Virginia, in addition to four in Florida, one in Georgia and one in North Carolina.

In Apalachicola, about 48 kilometres east of where the storm made landfall, a little less than half of the 2,200 people stayed and rode out the storm, residents said. Wind damage was also evident. Numerous most heavily-hit areas have not yet been reached, as flooding, downed power lines, trees and other debris blocking roadways are prohibiting crews' access.

As of 10am BST (5am EDT) on Thursday morning, the NHC discontinued its storm surge warning for the Florida coast south of Altamaha Sound - but warned a tropical storm warning and storm surge warning was still in place in Georgia and The Carolinas.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labour Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969.

It could be weeks before power is restored to the most damaged parts of Florida.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story gave the incorrect surname for storm victim Steven Sweet.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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