Hurricane Michael left path of destruction, isnt done yet

Hurricane Michael left path of destruction, isn\t done yet
Its absolutely horrendous: Florida residents detail Hurricane Michaels catastrophic destruction
The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael came into focus Thursday with rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces.

Search crews began making their way into the stricken areas in hopes of accounting for hundreds of people who may have defied evacuation orders.

Michael sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore. It forced more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast to evacuate as it gained strength quickly while crossing the eastern Gulf of Mexico toward north Florida. It moved so fast that people didn’t’ have much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, was blamed for the death of a man killed after a tree fell on a Panhandle home and an 11-year-old girl who died when a portable carport crashed through a roof in Georgia. According to local media reports, the death toll rose Thursday from two to six, with deaths in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina from falling trees and other hurricane-related incidents.

Video: Hurricane Michael: FEMA Focusing On Search And Rescue | TODAY

Though weakened into a tropical storm, Michael continued to bring heavy rain and blustery winds to the Southeast as it pushed inland. The storm was expected to move across North Carolina and Virginia and push into the Atlantic Ocean by late Thursday or early Friday.

Damage in Panama City near where Michael came ashore Wednesday afternoon was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled away, sent airborne, and homes were split open by fallen trees. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Palm trees whipped wildly in the winds. More than 380,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm.

Over 900,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Alabama and Georgia Thursday, with search-and-rescue efforts underway in those states. The Army Corps of Engineers was supplying generators to help get power to storm-ravaged areas and teams to start clearing debris and begin building temporary roofs.

A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said. But she added emergency crews trying to reach the home were hampered by downed trees and debris blocking roadways. The debris was a problem in many coastal communities and still hundreds of thousands of people were also left without power.

"This morning, Florida's Gulf Coast and Panhandle and the Big Bend are waking up to unimaginable destruction," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.

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. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and his ears even popped when the barometric pressure went lower. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine.

"So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything. … This hurricane was an absolute monster."

In Florida, the town of Mexico Beach appeared to be "ground zero," said Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

After Michael left the Panhandle late Wednesday, Kaylee O’Brien was crying as she sorted through the remains of the apartment she shared with three roommates at Whispering Pines apartments, where the smell of broken pine trees was thick in the air. Four pine trees had crashed through the roof of her apartment, nearly hitting two people.

A reporter and photojournalist from the Tampa Bay Times ventured there in the dark early Thursday, finding the town of about 1,000 almost impassable. They reported seeing many destroyed homes, some with staircases leading to doors suspended three metres in the air with nothing on the other side, entire structures washed away. Refrigerators and toilets and piles of soggy furniture were strewn across properties.

In Panama City, downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled away and sent airborne. Aluminum siding was shredded to ribbons. Homes were split open by fallen trees, hundreds of cars had broken windows and twisted street signs lay on the ground. 

___ Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Florida; Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Brendan Farrington in St. Marks, Florida; Russ Bynum in Keaton Beach, Florida; Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland, contributed to this story.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm was centred about 40 kilometres south of Greensboro, N.C., as of 2 p.m. ET., moving northeast at 37 kilometres per hour. Top sustained winds were 85 km/h; the storm made landfall in Florida on Wednesday afternoon with top sustained winds of nearly 250 km/h.

Notice: Your email may not yet have been verified. Please check your email, click the link to verify your address, and then submit your comment. If you cant find this email, access your profile editor to re-send the confirmation email. You must have a verified email to submit a comment. Once you have done so, check again.

Forecasters said it could drop up to 18 centimetres of rain over the Carolinas and Virginia before pushing out to sea.

Officials hoped the fast-moving nature would limit the impact of flooding in the Carolinas, where rivers in several counties rose dangerously as a result of Hurricane Florence last month.

"For North Carolina, Michael isn't as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert," Gov. Roy Cooper said.

The storm is likely to fire up the debate over global warming. Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires. But without extensive study, they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.

The U.S. Coast Guard in Mobile, Ala., said its crews had rescued 27 people, mostly from damaged homes, while in Panama City, Fla., a Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew pulled nine people from a bathroom of a home after a roof collapsed Wednesday afternoon.

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard. But after the storm passed, she emerged to check on the cafe she manages and discovered a scene of breathtaking destruction.

The coast guard said there were no reports of deaths from their missions across the Florida Panhandle.

“We are in new territory,” National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. “The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle.”

A National Guard team got into Mexico Beach and found 20 survivors overnight, and more crews were pushing into the area in the morning, with the fate of many residents unknown, authorities said. State officials said 285 people in Mexico Beach had refused to leave ahead of the hurricane despite a mandatory evacuation order.

With a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, a measure of a hurricanes force, Michael was the third strongest storm on record to hit the continental United States, behind only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.

Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for the elderly mother of a friend. The woman lived in a small cinderblock house about 137 metres from the Gulf and thought she would be OK.

Michael, a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale when it came ashore, was causing flash flooding on Thursday in parts of North Carolina and Virginia, where some areas could get as much as 9 inches (23 cm) of rain, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

"Aggy! Aggy!" McPherson yelled. The only sound that came back was the echo from the half-demolished building and the pounding of the surf.

Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the U.S. mainland, weakened overnight to a tropical storm and pushed northeast on Thursday, bringing drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

As she walked down the street, McPherson pointed out pieces of what had been the woman's house: "That's the blade from her ceiling fan. That's her floor tile."

Video shot by CNN from a helicopter showed homes closest to the water in Mexico Beach had lost all but their foundations. A few blocks inland, about half the homes were reduced to piles of wood and siding and those still standing had suffered heavy damage.

Storm-related road closures included a 125-kilometre stretch of Interstate 10 in Florida as a result of what an official called "extremely hazardous conditions," as well as the Talmadge Bridge on U.S. 17 between Savannah, Ga., and South Carolina, which was closed because of the threat of high winds on the suspension bridge that spans the Savannah River.

Michael sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, gaining strength from the warm Gulf of Mexico waters to a Category 4 hurricane. It moved so fast that people didn't have much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

The Red Cross said 7,800 evacuees took refuge in 100 shelters across three states. It has prepared cots and supplies across the affected states for a greater number of people, given the expectation many homes will be uninhabitable for some time.

The injured in Florida were taken to hospitals in Tallahassee, with some hurt after the storm by breaking tree limbs and falls, said Allison Castillo, director of emergency services at the citys Capital Regional Medical Center.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labour Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth strongest, behind the Labour Day storm, Camille and Andrew in 1992.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

In Panama City, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Mexico Beach, buildings were crushed and boats were scattered around. Michael left a trail of utility wires on roads, flattened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael came into focus Thursday with rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces, and rescue crews began making their way into the stricken areas in hopes of accounting for hundreds of people who may have defied evacuation orders.

At least two deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, and it wasnt done yet: Though reduced to a tropical storm, it brought flash flooding to North Carolina and Virginia, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Under a perfectly clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged tentatively from darkened shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

Our biggest thing is the downed lines and the downed trees and now this water main issue, said Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson, referring to a burst water main complicating efforts to restore power.

The full extent of Michaels fury was only slowly becoming clear, with some of the hardest-hit areas difficult to reach because of roads blocked by debris or water. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, was closed.

A damaged home is seen after hurricane Michael passed through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida.

The wind was really tearing us apart. It was so scary youd poo yourself, said retiree Tom Garcia, 60, who was trapped inside his Mexico Beach home as water poured in to waist height.

Some of the worst damage was in Mexico Beach, where the hurricane crashed ashore Wednesday as a Category 4 monster with 155 mph (250 kph) winds and a storm surge of 9 feet (2.7 meters). Video from a drone revealed widespread devastation across the town of about 1,000 people.

It feels like you dont know when the next tree is going to fall on top of you because it’s blowing so ferociously, said Port St. Joe Mayor Bo Patterson in a Reuters interview. You just dont know when the next one is going down. Its very, very scary. We have trees being uprooted, heavy, heavy rain.

Entire blocks of homes near the beach were obliterated, reduced to nothing but concrete slabs in the sand. Rows and rows of other homes were turned into piles of splintered lumber or were crumpled and slumped at odd angles. Entire roofs were torn away and dropped onto a road. Boats were tossed ashore like toys.

“A motion toward the northeast at a faster forward speed is forecast on Thursday through Friday night. On the forecast track, the core of Michael will move inland across the Florida Panhandle this afternoon, and across southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia tonight,” said the National Hurricane Center.

A National Guard team got into Mexico Beach and found 20 survivors overnight, and more crews were pushing into the area in the morning, with the fate of many residents unknown, authorities said. State officials said 285 people in Mexico Beach had refused to leave ahead of the hurricane despite a mandatory evacuation order.

Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for the elderly mother of a friend. The woman lived in a small cinderblock house about 150 yards from the Gulf and thought she would be OK.

READ MORE: Here’s how Hurricane Michael matches up to the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history

Aggy! Aggy! McPherson yelled. The only sound that came back was the echo from the half-demolished building and the pounding of the surf.

Around 4,000 people have entered 70 evacuation shelters, FEMA officials told ABC, which added that power could be out in some places for weeks.

As she walked down the street, McPherson pointed out pieces of what had been the womans house: Thats the blade from her ceiling fan. Thats her floor tile.

Mexico Beach, Florida, was crushed by Hurricane Michael on Oct. 10 as video footage emerged of shattered houses floating in storm surge water.

As thousands of National Guard troops, law enforcement officers and medical teams fanned out, the governor pleaded with people in the devastated areas to stay away for now because of fallen trees, power lines and other debris.

Michael is the worst hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle since the mid-1800s, the director of FEMA, Brock Long, told ABC News.

I know you just want to go home. You want to check on things and begin the recovery process, Scott said. But we have to make sure things are safe.

Houses are almost completely underwater, and the only thing visible are home’s roofs in some areas, CNN reported.

The Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people before and after the hurricane came ashore, mostly from homes along the Florida coastline, and searched for more victims.

A collapsed boat housing sits after the arrival of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida, USA, 10 October 2018.

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

In Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs had been peeled off and carried away. Aluminum siding was shredded to ribbons. Homes were split open by fallen trees.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20 feet high.

The hurricane also damaged hospitals and nursing homes in the Panama City area, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients. The damage at Bay Medical Sacred Heart included blown-out windows, a cracked exterior wall and a roof collapse in a maintenance building. No patients were hurt, the hospital said.

A McDonald’s sign damaged by Hurricane Michael is pictured in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018.

The state mental hospital in Chattahoochee, which has a section for the criminally insane, was cut off by land, and food and supplies were being flown in, authorities said.

A man outside Tallahassee, Florida, was killed by a falling tree, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia died when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home. One of the carports legs punctured the roof and hit her in the head.

As of 2 p.m. EDT, Michael was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Greensboro, North Carolina, with winds of 50 mph (85 kph). It was moving northeast at 23 mph (37 kph).

Forecasters said it could drop up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain over the Carolinas and Virginia before pushing out to sea Thursday night. In North Carolinas mountains, motorists had to be rescued from cars trapped by high water.

For North Carolina, Michael isnt as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert, Gov. Roy Cooper said.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in. But it moved fast and intensified quickly, and emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings.

A large tree is shown toppled onto cars and boats that had been moved to higher ground to avoid damage from Hurricane Michael.

Why people didnt evacuate is something we should be studying, said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a former Florida state emergency management chief. Is there more the government can do? But we ask that every time.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 mph, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.