Saturday, 16 February, 2019


Survivors scramble for food and water in the wake of Hurricane Michael

S Hurricane Michael drenches Florida Panhandle S Hurricane Michael drenches Florida Panhandle
Kristine Garrett | 13 October, 2018, 21:06

When their house filled with surging ocean water, they fled upstairs.

Dozens of structures in Mexico Beach - homes, shops and restaurants - were lifted off their foundations by storm surge and 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds and moved hundreds of feet inland or smashed to bits.

Bill Shockey, 86, refused to leave Mexico Beach despite his daughter's pleas.

Soon, Morales said, his mobile home started floating.

"You hope that somehow at the last minute a bunch of people got up and left or went somewhere else", Florida Senator Marco Rubio told CNN.

At least two deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. 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. "We need to restore basic utilities, clear our roads of trees and power lines, and assess the structural integrity of our buildings".

Virginia officials said that Michael, classified as a tropical storm by the time it plowed through the state, had killed five people there.

In North Carolina, still struggling to recover after Florence, up to 152mm of rain had fallen in the mountains by morning, and people had to be rescued from cars trapped in high water.

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power blocking emergency officials access to many towns. Flash flooding also was reported in the big North Carolina cities of Charlotte and Raleigh. Similar scenes played out in parts of Virginia as the storm raced seawards.

Over 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power. Families living along the Panhandle are now faced with a struggle to survive in a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centres, the storm debris spread far and wide.

Nearby Panama City Beach experienced similar damage along with other communities along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around.

He got through a window of his home on to the top of his vehicle outside when Morales saw two neighbors wading through the rushing surge. "Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life".

Gov. Rick Scott said state officials still "do not know enough" about the fate of those who stayed behind in the region.

An insurance company that produces models for catastrophes estimated the damage at $8 billion.

Pecan, cotton, and peanut harvests were at risk as the unsafe storm plowed its way through Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas.

An 11-year-old girl, Sarah Radney, was killed on Wednesday when a carport was torn away and sent hurtling into a modular home in Seminole County, Georgia. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle.

Six people are dead in the storm's path, and authorities fear the toll could climb higher as search-and-rescue efforts continue.

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

Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the U.S. mainland, weakened to a tropical storm and pushed northeast on Thursday, bringing drenching rains to Georgia. Nine people had to be rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of a home in hard-hit Panama City after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said.

Some counts have indicated that 285 people in Mexico Beach remained in their homes during the storm, but rescuers say almost 200 people have escaped with their lives. The task ahead: finding and hopefully safely accounting for all those who stayed behind.

The number of fatalities is expected to rise as rescuers go door to door and comb through the rubble in Mexico Beach and other Florida coastal communities such as Port St. Joe and Panama City, said Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

National Guard troops made their way into the ground-zero town and found 20 survivors initially Wednesday night, and more rescue crews are arriving.

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