Monday, 10 December, 2018

Hurricane Michael leaves trail of devastation in Florida

A satellite image shows Hurricane Michael in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday A satellite image shows Hurricane Michael in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday
Cary Marshall | 11 October, 2018, 19:56

Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, just down the coast of Panama City, and left a wide path of destruction in its wake.

"The center of Michael will continue to move over the southern Gulf of Mexico this morning, then move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico later today and tonight", the agency said.

Long, the head of FEMA, said many Florida buildings were not built to withstand a storm above the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. A tropical storm watch has been issued from South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina, including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds. "I didn't expect all this", said Bill Manning, 63, a grocery clerk who left his camper van in Panama City, Florida, to move into a hotel where the power was already out, Reuters reported. Becker said about 55 people were in the shelters early Thursday.

In a letter to Trump on Wednesday requesting assistance, Scott wrote that the state had already spent close to $40 million on its response.

Some other highways are still closed because of flooding and damage from Hurricane Florence last month.

You can see trees split in half, flooding, and planks of wood - part of people's homes - just floating in the flood waters.

"We had furniture in our house that wasn't even ours", Scott Boutwell said, explaining that when he returned to his home Thursday the only belongings he could find was a briefcase.

Among those brought to safety were nine people rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of their Panama City home after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said.

Crews were out early Thursday searching for more victims.

The official said that after Hurricane Irma in September 2017, a field hospital was required in the Florida Keys for a year, and similar situations may be required with Michael. They are posting information about recovery efforts, road and bridge openings and the status of evactuaion orders on FloridaDisaster.org. A huge swath of Interstate 10, the main east-west route near the coast, is blocked off due to damage. Michael was more intense at landfall than hurricanes Andrew, Katrina and Maria.

- The human cost: A man in Gadsden County, Florida, killed by a falling tree, and an 11-year-old girl in Seminole County, Georgia, killed when a carport blew through the roof of her home.

"Same devastation. Same winds", she said.

"The entire county was "pitch black" and there were no clear roads", he said.

Michael is now centered over SC and is still a tropical storm after a long land journey over the southeastern United States.

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Hurricane Michael strengthened to a Category 2 storm yesterday as it moved towards the Florida Panhandle, where residents were ordered to get out of harm's way ahead of life-threatening waves, winds and rains.

As of 9 a.m. Thursday, the storm was about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west-northwest of Columbia, South Carolina, moving northeast at 21 mph (33 kph).

A reporter and photojournalist from the Tampa Bay Times ventured there in the dark early Thursday, finding the town of about 1,000 nearly impassable.

Coastal residents rushed to board up their homes and sandbag their properties against the fast-moving hurricane, which was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday along a relatively lightly populated stretch of shoreline known for its fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches.

A landscape that once drew vacationers to secluded beaches was littered with refrigerators, toilets and staircases no longer connected to houses.

"Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area", Nelson said on CNN. One couple was looking for their mother's portable oxygen machine.

The email didn't say how long the work was expected to take.

Hurricane Michael became a Category 3 storm with 120 miles per hour maximum sustained winds on October 9. 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.

Storm surges of between nine and thirteen feet are now projected for the gulf coast between Mexico Beach, Florida (just south of Panama City on the Panhandle) and Keaton Beach on Florida's Big Bend.

After it ravaged the Panhandle, Michael entered south Georgia as a Category 3 hurricane - the most powerful in recorded history for that part of the neighboring state.

The town looked bruised, said Kathleen Troy, 57, as she and her husband walked their dog through dark streets, but not beaten.

As it came ashore, Michael was just shy of a Category 5 - defined as a storm packing wind speeds of 157 miles per hour or above.

In South Carolina, emergency management officials were continuing to monitor to the storm in anticipation of "heavy rain, gusty winds, possible tornadoes" and other hazards.

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