Monday, 22 October, 2018

Photos and videos show mass destruction from 'Monstrous' Michael in Florida

Florida Eyes Turn to Cleanup After Powerful Hurricane Michael VIDEOS: Hurricane Michael strikes Florida, moves to Carolinas as tropical storm
Sandy Nunez | 12 October, 2018, 17:53

Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the USA mainland, weakened overnight to a tropical storm but marched northeast on Thursday, toppling trees with 80kph winds and bringing "life threatening" flash flooding to Georgia and Virginia, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

Entire blocks of homes near the coast were washed away, leaving nothing but concrete slabs in the sand.

FEMA director Brock Long said Thursday Mexico Beach, Fla., took the brunt of the storm and is "ground zero".

Officials were concerned to help people who could be trapped in various areas along the coast, he told a news conference.

Numerous injured in Florida were taken to hard-hit Panama City, 32 kilometres northwest of Mexico Beach. Michael left a trail of utility wires on roads, flattened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church.

Al Hancock, 45, who works on a tour boat, survived in Panama City with his wife and dog.

"I'm very concerned about our citizens that didn't evacuate and I just hope that, you know, we don't have much loss of life", Scott told ABC.

ABC News' Rob Marciano encountered stray kittens stranded in the storm zone following Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida. State officials said 285 people in Mexico Beach had refused to leave ahead of the hurricane despite a mandatory evacuation order.

As the Category 4 storm's center crossed nearby, Mulligan said, her concrete complex shook and vibrated against sustained winds of around 155 miles per hour. It weakened steadily as it traveled inland over the Panhandle.

By early Friday morning, the fast-moving storm was about 65 miles (105km) north-east of Norfolk, Virginia, with top sustained winds of 60mph (95kph), the US National Hurricane Center said.

As Michael moves on to the Carolinas, there are serious concerns about deadly tornados and more flooding following Hurricane Florence.

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A man outside Tallahassee, Florida, was killed by a falling tree, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia died when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home.

"Anytime you have a significant storm surge event, roadways and bridges are greatly impacted and you have to survey those before you move power crews in", Long said.

Conditions remain precarious in hard hit areas, especially Mexico Beach, Florida, which Michael left in ruins.

They turned out to be correct, as warm ocean waters and a lack of wind shear - which are powerful opposing winds that can topple hurricanes - set the stage for the storm's intensification.

"The wind that came through here was surreal".

The small Gulf Coast community of Mexico Beach was known as a slice of Old Florida. Homes are gone, businesses are gone.

US President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for all of Florida, freeing federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses. The facility is running on power generators and helicopters have delivered food and water, the state's Department of Children and Families said. Wind damage was also evident.

"Our biggest thing is the downed lines and the downed trees and now this water main issue", said Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson, referring to a burst water main complicating efforts to restore power.

With a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, a measure of a hurricane's force, Michael was the third strongest storm on record to hit the continental United States, behind only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.

Large parts of Florida have suffered "unimaginable destruction" after the third-strongest hurricane in U.S. history slammed into the sunshine state.

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.