Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Science | By Dan Gutierrez

Florida Panhandle Town in Ruins After Hurricane Michael Roared Through Area

Florida Panhandle Town in Ruins After Hurricane Michael Roared Through Area

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who was going out with the National Guard Friday to survey the damage from the air and on the ground, called it "unimaginable destruction". Though most homes were still standing, no property was left undamaged.

Emergency officials said they had done an initial "hasty search" of 80 per cent of the stricken area, looking for the living or the dead.

Michael is not a spent force. Forecasters said Michael was expected to strengthen further overnight and become a Category 4 brute before slamming ashore. Florida, Georgia, and Alabama have all declared states of emergency, the latter two expecting serious flooding.

Colleen Swab, her mother and her young daughter took shelter in a closet in Panama City Beach, Florida. "I was sure it would be here", Daniel said.

"Don't think you can ride this out if you're in a low lying area".

(UPDATE: Oct. 10 @ 10:55 a.m.) - Hurricane Michael's has made landfall just northwest of Mexico Beach, Florida and the intensifying storm could be catastrophic.

Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184mph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

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

Emergency services carried out dozens of rescues of people caught by swiftly moving floodwaters in North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper said. Rescuers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) used dogs, drones and Global Positioning System in the search. Spokeswoman Joy Nelson said Thursday there were no large, neighborhood-wide power outages.

A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his auto.

After devastating coastal communities in the Florida Panhandle, the remnants of the storm, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, killed five people as it passed through the US state of Virginia.

Mexico Beach is in ruins after Hurricane Michael made landfall
A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said. Hurricane Michael's wind and storm surge ripped up buildings like posies and carried them inland.

At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm, which is the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental United States in over 50 years. Officials didn't say whether anyone else was in the vehicle. An 11-year-old girl in Georgia also died when Michael's winds picked up a carport and dropped it through the roof of her grandparents' home. "A river just started coming down the road".

Authorities reported 11 deaths as of Friday, with Virginia's state medical examiner ruling four drownings and the firefighter's death were storm-related.

According to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) the centre of Michael is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area, and then move northeastward across the southeastern US Wednesday night and Thursday.

The hurricane damaged hospitals and nursing homes in Panama City, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients.

A search-and-rescue operation led by FEMA did not find any fatalities in Mexico Beach as of Friday morning, but Donald Walker, the town's interim fire chief, said that is likely to change.

Many homes in the heavily-hit Mexico Beach and Port St. Joseph areas were reduced to piles of lumber, broken glass and household items.

She said their home is full of mud. Northeast, in Tallahassee, many more roads were closed, and 90 percent of the city was without power.

There are long lines for groceries and other basic supplies at a Walmart in Panama City, but people are facing hardship with grit and determination.

The storm "grew into a monster", Trump said Wednesday from the Oval Office.

The president told reporters that those affected by the storm were in his prayers, and he said the administration "will not rest or waver" until recovery was complete.

About 5,000 U.S. servicemen were deployed to help with relief and recovery efforts, the Pentagon said, using 100 helicopters and 1,800 high-water vehicles.

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