Hurricane Michael’s deadly toll spreads from Florida to Virginia

Posted October 12, 2018

Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, Florida, on Wednesday just shy of Category 5 hurricane strength, with winds gusting at 155 miles per hour.

Rescuers were on Friday surveying the damage after the most powerful storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history killed at least seven people.

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

The letter to President Donald Trump declares their "full support" for the emergency declaration sought by Gov. Rick Scott, stressing the need for early preparations.

And unless we change the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, we should expect hurricanes to intensify more rapidly in the coming decades, the scientific research group Climate Central said. "So many families have lost everything", he said.

Scott urged residents to stay inside so search-and-rescue teams could get through, adding that many roads were impassable anyway. An 80-mile (130-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route, was closed.

The Category 4 hurricane's 155 miles per hour winds and storm surge lifted whole houses off their foundations and ripped roofs off hundreds of structures along the Gulf Coast. Video from a drone revealed widespread devastation across the town of about 1,000 people.

The hurricane hit the Panhandle in the northwest part of the state early Wednesday afternoon, demolishing homes and submerging entire neighborhoods.

A pine tree punched a hole in their roof, and Beu's ears popped because of the drop in barometric pressure from the storm.

National Guard troops made their way into the ground-zero town and found 20 survivors Wednesday night, and more rescue crews were pushing into the area, with the fate of many residents unknown.

Tropical Storm Michael forms; Fla. governor to declare emergency
Depending on how quickly this system moves northward, the center of Michael could approach the Gulf Coast as soon as late Tuesday. As of 5:00 pm EDT, Tropical Storm Michael is about 190 miles south southwest of Cuba with sustained winds of 50 mph.

Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for a friend's elderly mother who thought she would be OK in her small cinderblock house just 150 yards (meters) from the Gulf. Neighbors struggled to find their homes on streets with piles of wood where houses once stood. "I can't think anymore because I just don't know what to do", she told CNN's Gary Tuchman, breaking down in tears. Michael's winds also toppled trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and flash flooding also was reported in North Carolina's two largest cities, Charlotte and Raleigh.

"I'll be traveling to Florida very, very shortly, and I just want to wish them all the best". But "we have to make sure things are safe".

All told, more than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power.

The Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people before and after the hurricane's landfall, mostly from coastal homes.

Nearby Panama City Beach experienced similar damage along with other communities along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

Downed power lines lay almost everywhere.

At the city's Jinks Middle School, the storm peeled back part of the gym roof and tore off a wall. Aluminum siding was shredded to ribbons. A spokeswoman said that one man was killed when a tree crashed through the roof of his home in Greensboro.

Hundreds of residents were rescued on Thursday from cars, apartments and homes flooded by rushing water. Some houses were simply wiped off of their foundations, with wreckage and sand covering the ground and streets.

In Virginia, the National Weather Service said on Friday, "significant river flooding is occurring or forecast on the Appomattox River and possibly even on the lower James River".

The Coast Guard said shallow water response crews had rescued about 40 people, in addition to having helped evacuate 142 nursing home patients to a hospital in Pensacola.

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