Friday, 19 October, 2018

Devastation in Florida, flooding elsewhere — WHAT'S HAPPENING

Hurricane Michael takes aim at 300-mile Gulf Coast target 'We've Never Seen Anything Like It in the Panhandle': Monstrous Hurricane Michael Set to Strike Florida
Derrick Tucker | 12 October, 2018, 22:52

Families living along the Panhandle are now faced with a struggle to survive in a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, the storm debris spread far and wide.

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.

The amount and extent of storm debris is unfathomable. An 80-mile (130-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route, was closed.

Tropical Storm Michael, formerly Hurricane Michael, which bashed the Florida panhandle as one of the worst storms to ever hit the U.S.in recorded history, continues working through North Carolina on a unsafe path leading to Virginia.

Entire blocks of homes near the beach were obliterated, reduced to concrete slabs in the sand. Rows and rows of other homes were rendered piles of splintered lumber. Video from a drone revealed widespread devastation across the town of about 1,000 people.

The number of dead was expected to rise, but authorities scrapped plans for setting up a temporary morgue, indicating they had yet to see signs of mass casualties from the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S.in almost 50 years.

Meanwhile, thousands of National Guard troops, law enforcement officers and rescue teams still had much to do in the hardest hit area: Florida's Panhandle.

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 (meters) from the Gulf and thought she would be OK. "You're not going to recognize Mexico Beach". "Do you think it would have floated away?" When the house filled with storm surge water, they fled upstairs.

A State Police news release says 45-year-old James E. King Jr. of Dry Fork, Va., was caught in his vehicle in a flash flood Thursday around 3:30 p.m.

Gov. Rick Scott announced soon after the powerful eye had swept inland that "aggressive" search and rescue efforts were just beginning and urged people to stay off debris-littered roads. "It was terrible, and now there's just nothing left".

A psychiatric hospital in Florida is isolated after downed trees blocked roads around Chattahoochee, and a tree caused a water line to break.

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Hurricane Michael heads for Florida as NC also braces for strike
The storm was expected to bring up to 30cm of rain with storm surges up to 3.7m, according to the US National Hurricane Center. If Michael's forecast proves right, there's a 95 percent chance the area's dunes will be flooded by storm waters.

"I'll be traveling to Florida very, very shortly, and I just want to wish them all the best".

"If you and your family made it through the storm safely, the worst thing you could do now is act foolishly", he said. It killed at least 12 people in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, officials said. "It's not the Mexico Beach we know".

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted he was hearing "stunning" reports of damage, including that "Mexico Beach is gone" and the "damage in Panama City is catastrophic". Roofs had been peeled off and carried away.

One of those deaths would be a man killed by a falling tree.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows.

The US Army said more than 2,000 Florida National Guard soldiers were working on the recovery operations.

The hurricane also damaged hospitals and nursing homes in the Panama City area, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients. Cuban authorities said they evacuated about 400 people from low-lying areas.

Victims included an 11-year-old girl killed in Seminole County, Georgia, when a metal carport crashed through a roof, hitting her head. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his auto.

Michael left North Carolina and Virginia behind with rivers rising.

The final effects of Michael were being felt across parts of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina, where the National Hurricane Center warned of "life-threatening" flash flooding and "strong, possibly damaging winds".

As it came ashore, Michael was just shy of a Category 5 - defined as a storm packing top sustained wind speeds of 157 miles per hour or above. The National Hurricane Center on Friday warned the storm was gaining strength with maximum increasing to 65 miles per hour and would remain unsafe as it moves off toward the Atlantic Ocean through the weekend.

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