Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

Hurricane Apocalypse in Florida: Lives Lost, Homes Gone, American Catastrophy

Hurricane Michael leaves massive destruction in the US Seven of the Most Devastating Hurricane Michael Photos You'll Ever See
Cary Marshall | 13 October, 2018, 01:25

Michael came ashore on Wednesday near the small Panhandle town of Mexico Beach with top sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 km per hour), pushing a wall of seawater inland and causing widespread flooding. As the tropical storm continued to weaken it was still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes.

By late Thursday, authorities in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina attributed at least six deaths to the once-in-a-generation storm, but officials anxious that still more victims would be found in its wake, The Washington Post reported. "The EOC [emergency operations center] came, and the sheriff's office, and then the governor was here and talked about it again, and then the day before, we sent deputies in the low-lying areas door to door to tell people".

One reason why Michael shrugged off 20 to 25 mph wind shear might be the size of the hurricane, which could have made it too big and unruly to be affected by it. Michael was about 350 miles wide, according to the National Hurricane Center — or nearly as wide as the state of New Mexico.

By comparison Tropical Storm Nadine, which is churning west from the coast of Africa, is facing the same level of wind shear that Michael faced, or up to 25 miles per hour.

Although weaker as it pushed over the southeastern United States, the storm carried high winds and delivered drenching rains to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.

But it wasn't just Florida that felt the wrath of the storm.

Uprooted trees, downed power poles and limited communications have made it hard for first responders and families to reach residents in need. Homes were split open by fallen trees. Twisted street signs lay on the ground.

Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her home, Spring Gate Apartments, a complex of single-story wood frame buildings where they piled up mattresses around themselves for protection. "It's unrealistic for people to think it's going to happen in the next day or two". The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine. "It went through Florida very, very quickly, it didn't linger, it didn't come back, as we had in Texas".

Long said Michael was one of the most intense hurricanes to hit the area since 1851.

On Friday, Cooper said the storm "left behind a long track of damage".

Florida officials say one man died when he was crushed in an incident involving a tree in Gadsden County.

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Much of the water receded overnight, though some rivers were still rising and two were forecast to crest on Friday, Cooper said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Friday morning that the state has "half a million gallons of fuel being distributed daily at 40 fueling stations to support our utility crews as they work around the clock to restore power".

"It was just a freak accident, I never heard of anything like that", her father, Roy Radney said.

State officials said they'd received reports of damage to the state's pecan, cotton, vegetables and peanut crops.

Contributors in Florida include Associated Press writers Jay Reeves in Panama City, Brendan Farrington in St. Marks, Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, and Jennifer Kay and Freida Frisaro in Miami. Shards of glass and pieces of clothing could be seen all over the hotel.

Michael, the third-most powerful hurricane ever to hit the USA mainland, weakened overnight to a tropical storm and pushed north-east, bringing drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 miles per hour, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

It also brought the dangers of a life-threatening storm surge.

In Mexico Beach, population 1,000, the storm shattered homes, leaving floating piles of lumber. The lead-grey water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes. It was a powerful explosion of nature, one of the most powerful hurricanes on record.

The storm is likely to fire up the debate over global warming. At least seven people were killed by the storm.

Michael's strength may reflect the effect of climate change on storms. 5 confirmed Michael-related fatalities. Four pine trees had crashed through the roof of her apartment, almost hitting two people.

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