Monday, 20 May, 2019


'Changed Forever': Florida Panhandle devastated by Michael

People line up for gasoline outside Tallahassee Florida on Monday as Hurricane Michael bears down on the northern Gulf coas 'Changed Forever': Florida Panhandle devastated by Michael
Kristine Garrett | 12 October, 2018, 17:28

Michael charged ashore on Wednesday near the small Florida Panhandle town of Mexico Beach as one of the most powerful storms in US history, with top sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 km per hour).

Forecasters have warned heavy rain could spark the same kind of life-threatening flash flooding in the Big Bend, Panhandle, Georgia and SC and have continued to warn Michael's storm surge is the most serious threat to the coast as the bend in the coastline traps destructive waves.

Hurricane Michael became a Category 3 storm with 120 miles per hour maximum sustained winds on October 9-ahead of making landfall along the Florida Panhandle, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And while forecasters said Michael was gradually losing its tropical traits, it was a new chapter would begin as an extratropical storm predicted to intensify with gale force winds once it starts cross out into the Atlantic.

Hanson stayed in his family's house one block from the beach to ride out the storm, along with his uncle and 98-year-old grandmother. The destruction in this and other communities dotting the white-sand beaches is being called catastrophic - and it will need billions of dollars to rebuild. "All of my furniture was floating", she said. "It was terrible, and now there's just nothing left".

In North Carolina's mountains, motorists had to be rescued Thursday from cars trapped by high water.

A day later, the beach town remained hard to reach by land, with roads covered by fallen trees, power lines and other debris.

Warnings have also been been expanded to the United States east coast, from Fernandina Beach - just north of Jacksonville - to SC, as forecasters fear the storm will spread rapidly as it moves inland.

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.

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

Tyndall Air Force Base, located 12 miles east of Panama City, suffered "serve damage to the base infrastructure", the Air Force said.

The storm tore entire neighborhoods apart, reducing homes and businesses to piles of wood and siding, damaging roads and leaving scenes of devastation that resembled the aftermath of a carpet-bombing operation.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows.

Two hospitals in Panama City were closed, but two temporary facilities opened to receive their patients and other people injured by the storm.

"So many lives have been changed forever".

Michael also disrupted energy operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico as it approached land, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 percent and natural gas output by almost a third as offshore platforms were evacuated.

A man was killed when a tree fell on a residence in Greensboro, Florida, Sgt. Anglie Hightower, a spokeswoman for the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office, told NBC News.

Scott urged residents to stay inside so search-and-rescue teams could get through, adding that many roads were impassable anyway.

"Meanwhile, the Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people, mostly from homes damaged along the Florida coastline, and searched for more victims". It developed into a hurricane on Monday, and by Tuesday, more than 180,000 people were already under mandatory evacuation orders. The woman lived in a small cinderblock house about 150 yards (meters) from the Gulf and thought she would be OK.

Rebecca McAuliffe said: "You can't even recognize some of the areas in town". But emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings.

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