Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

USA hurricane leaves homes unmoored, power lines damaged

Thousands of people reported missing after Hurricane Michael Hurricane Michael update: at least 13 killed, including firefighter as crews search for survivors
Jeannette Daniel | 14 October, 2018, 04:06

"We didn't have anything", Corley said.

The Houston-based volunteer search-and-rescue network CrowdSource Rescue said its teams were trying to find about 2,100 people either reported missing or stranded and in need of help in Florida, co-founder Matthew Marchetti said.

Michael smashed into Florida's northwest coast near the small town of Mexico Beach with screeching 250 kilometres per hour winds, pushing a wall of seawater inland.

Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the U.S. mainland, weakened to a tropical storm and pushed northeast on Thursday, bringing drenching rains to Georgia.

Shell-shocked survivors who barely escaped with their lives told of terrifying winds, surging floodwaters and homes cracking like eggs.

Hector Morales, a 57-year-old cook, never thought of evacuating.

"I lost everything", Morales said. "The officers, I finally made accountability of them all today, two days after the fact".

Relatives of people who defied evacuation orders in Mexico Beach, a town where the storm obliterated shorefront neighborhoods, also posted messages on the Facebook pages of law enforcement pleading for help finding relatives.

Officials said more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Florida and 20,000 utility workers had been deployed to restore power. They hope to complete those inspections later Saturday.

But with mobile phone service out across vast swathes of the Florida Panhandle, officials said it was possible that some of those unaccounted for are safe and just have not been able to contact friends or family to let them know. Chesterfield, Newport News and Virginia Beach were among the cities with the most costumers without power.

With a pocket full of cigars and his cat, Andy, Shockey watched the hurricane roll in.

An 11-year-old girl, Sarah Radney, was killed on Wednesday when a carport was torn away and sent hurtling into a modular home in Seminole County, Georgia.

The storm, a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, tore apart entire neighbourhoods in the Panhandle and many houses in Mexico Beach were reduced to naked concrete foundations or piles of rubble. "We'll starve to death by then", she said.

More news: Knicks Release Joakim Noah; Still Owes Him $38 Million

By Friday morning the storm remnants were about 275 miles (445 km) southwest of Nantucket, Massachusetts, packing maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph). "Whenever they want, I'm going to move in with my son in Georgia".

"Bottom line: It was one of the most powerful storms that the country's seen since 1851", said Brock Long, Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator.

"Very few people live to tell what it's like to experience storm surge", Long said.

"I will not recall you and your families until we can guarantee your safety".

Authorities have set up distribution centers to dole out food and water to victims, who just were coming to grips with the brutal realities of their situation.

Dough Shelby looks from his house to the destruction in Mexico Beach.

The Cooter Stew Cafe starts taking water in the town of Saint Marks as Hurricane Michael pushes the storm surge up the Wakulla and Saint Marks Rivers which come together here on October 10, 2018 in Saint Marks, Florida.

Elsewhere, President Donald Trump announced plans to visit Florida and hard-hit Georgia early next week but didn't say what day he would arrive.

"We are with you!" he tweeted.

On the Panhandle, Tyndall Air Force Base "took a beating", so much so that Colonel Brian Laidlaw told the 3,600 men and women stationed on the base not to come back.

Numerous beach's residents followed evacuation orders.

A small "ride-out" team that hunkered down as the hurricane's destructive eyewall passed directly overhead ventured out to find almost every building severely damaged, many a complete loss. The elementary school, the flight line, the marina and the runways were devastated.

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