Hurricane Michael Obliterates Mexico Beach, Florida

12 October, 2018, 06:12 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Natural Gas

Communications outages and roads blocked by downed trees, strewn power lines and debris made it hard to get an overall assessment on Thursday of the damage wrought by Michael, but the initial picture was grim.

In Mexico Beach, a seafront town where the hurricane made landfall, houses had been razed by storm surge, boats had been tossed into yards and the streets were littered with trees and power lines.

The sky cleared on Thursday.

Damage from Hurricane Michael is seen in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

Linda Burton returned to Parker, a town of about 4,300 northwest of Mexico Beach, from a storm haven in Alabama to find her motorhome had been destroyed by falling trees.

The marina her brother owns is submerged, she said. "We're happy to be alive". Her home is still standing, unlike others, she said.

Michael ploughed into Florida's Panhandle coast near the town of Mexico Beach at 14:00 (18:00 GMT) on Wednesday, one of the strongest storms to ever hit the United States mainland.

An 11-year-old girl in southwestern Georgia also died when a tree fell on her home, officials said. CNN said Thursday afternoon the number of deaths had climbed to six.

Head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, called Mexico Beach "ground zero" due to the damage. The area is known for its small coastal towns and wildlife reserves.

Flooding is expected in parts of the state that were previously hit by deadly Hurricane Florence in September, he said. It was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday near Panama City Beach, along a lightly populated stretch of fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches.

As he looked around, a new reality set in: "Our lives are gone here". As many as 389,639 customers in Florida, 484,487 customers in North Carolina, 117,000 customers in Georgia, 24,000 customers in Alabama, 9,163 customers in SC and 61,067 customers in Virginia.

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Florida Governor Rick Scott told the Weather Channel the damage from Panama City down to Mexico Beach was "way worse than anybody ever anticipated". The video - taken by storm chaser Brett Adair - showed how wind and rain ravaged Jinks Middle School. A year ago the school welcomed students and families displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The second floor of some apartments are just gone.

"I have had employees going to the communities where our kids live, going door to door and checking", Principal Britt Smith by phone.

Hurricane Michael suddenly became news on Monday after eclipsing its former tropical-storm status while lashing Cuba.

Emergency services carried out dozens of rescues of people caught by swiftly moving floodwaters in North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper said.

Thousands of people hunkered down in shelters overnight after fleeing their homes ahead of the storm.

Mandatory evacuation orders went into effect Tuesday morning for some 120,000 people in Panama City Beach and across other low-lying parts of the coast.

The tropical storm is expected to swell into a Category 1 hurricane as soon as Monday night as it rolls into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, with winds of 70 miles per hour, forecasters said. Wind damage was also evident.

What damage has Michael wrought?

The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 percent of daily U.S. crude oil output and 5 percent of daily natural gas output, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

It could be the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida panhandle in recorded history.

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