Hurricane Michael strikes Florida, moves to Carolinas as tropical storm

Katie Ramirez
October 12, 2018

At least two deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental USA in over 50 years, and it wasn't done yet: Though weakened into a tropical storm, it continued to bring heavy rain and blustery winds to the Southeast as it pushed inland, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

But upon landfall Wednesday afternoon, just north of Mexico Beach, the storm was a Category 4 with maximum sustained winds reaching 155 miles per hour and a storm surge of 9 feet.

Governor Scott said the US Coast Guard carried out 10 missions overnight, saving at least 27 people.

"It looks like a war zone", said B. Cody Shields, a 31-year-old who rode out the storm in his parents' Panama City home, not far from where Michael's center made landfall.

Video shot by CNN from a helicopter showed homes closest to the water in Mexico Beach had lost all but their foundations.

Although most homes were still standing, no property was left undamaged and downed power lines lay almost everywhere.

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

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center in hard-hit Panama City, 32 km northwest of Mexico Beach, was treating some of the injured.

As the storm heads over North Carolina and Virginia, heavy rain is forecast with up to nine inches of rain forecast for those two states.

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A resident surveys the scattered belongings at a damaged home after Hurricane Michael hit in Panama City, Fla. Only first responders were allowed in and an 8pm curfew was imposed. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 6 meters high.

Gov. Rick Scott said the Panhandle woke up to "unimaginable destruction".

Florida governor Rick Scott had warned of "unimaginable devastation" from the approaching menace, and it looked like he was proved right on Thursday morning as the first rescue and fix crews arrived to assess the damage.

Michael was expected to leave the USA east coast on Friday.

Michael pummeled communities across the Panhandle and turned streets into roof-high waterways.

Floodwaters have risen to more than seven feet deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents. Wind damage was also evident.

"There are so many downed power lines and trees that it's nearly impossible to get through the city", Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson said.

"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.

In terms of pressure, The Washington Post reported that Michael is the third-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States, even ranking above Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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