Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Rescues, damage in Florida after hurricane — WHAT’S HAPPENING

Hurricane Michael now Category 4, expected to do ‘catastrophic’ damage to Florida Gulf Coast Hurricane Michael's Winds Reach 150 mph, First Ever Extreme Wind Warning Issued for Region |
Sandy Nunez | 11 October, 2018, 19:56

While many cities along the Florida Panhandle enjoy the protection of various channel, barrier and tied islands, which can help stifle the impact of storm surge on the mainland, Mexico Beach sits between Crooked Island and the St. Joseph Peninsula, directly on the water.

Authorities warned of coming disruptions for those in Michael's path.

Hurricane Michael became a Category 3 storm with 120 miles per hour maximum sustained winds on October 9.

By 12 a.m. EDT Thursday, the storm's winds had dropped to tropical storm strength with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour and it was moving northeast at 17 miles per hour.

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.

By 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) Thursday it had been downgraded to a tropical storm with 50-mph (85-kph) winds as it pushed through Georgia into the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center said.

Ken Graham, director of the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, said Michael is "unfortunately, a historical and incredibly unsafe and life-threatening situation".

Florida's Big Bend, a loosely defined area of the eastern Panhandle where the coastline bends to the south, was bracing for the worst.

Forecasters said it could bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia, triggering flash flooding in a corner of the country still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Florida officials said Michael, packing winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour), was the most powerful storm to hit the state s northern Panhandle area in more than a century. President Donald Trump has endorsed Scott and DeSantis.

"The Gulf Power system held strong from Pensacola to Fort Walton Beach - a testament to the investments we've made to harden our infrastructure", Gulf Power spokesman Jeff Rogers said in a statement. "It looks like another big one".

The governor pleaded with people in Florida not to go home yet. But the surging seawater could also create perilous problems far from the coast, raising rivers and bays to unsafe levels as it pushes as much as 10 to 15 miles inland. "No one's going to survive (such a wall of water)", he said.

In Georgia, governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 92 of Georgia's 159 counties.

Long, the head of FEMA, said many Florida buildings were not built to withstand a storm above the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

In Cuba, it dumped more than 10 inches (27 centimeters) of rain in places, flooding fields, damaging roads, knocking out power and destroying some homes in the western province of Pinar del Rio.

Britons killed in Majorca flooding named locally amid rescue efforts
Local television showed footage of beach umbrellas floating in the sea near S'Illot, one of the affected coastal villages. Helicopters and search dogs were also dispatched to the scene, the country's emergency military unit added.

For residents who want to leave, local authorities are stressing timely evacuation, too.

Gulf and Franklin counties, which are on the coast, and Holmes County, which is to the north, were all more than 90 percent without power.

Both NOAA and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft have flown through the hurricane's four quadrants - and the NHC says, "The planes actually passed through the eye around the same time [Tuesday morning], and reported that they could see one another".

"A northward motion is expected through tonight, followed by a northeastward motion on Wednesday and Thursday".

Florida Fish and Wildlife has put 40 additional law enforcement officers on notice to deploy with a variety of special equipment, including boats that can be used for high-water rescues.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

"Impacts from Hurricane Michael along the Florida Panhandle will include a unsafe storm surge, flooding rainfall and damaging winds". NPR's Emily Sullivan reports state and local governments are preparing for torrential downpours.

Fires still burned in the early morning darkness the day after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, a Florida Gulf Coast beach town that doesn't usually get much attention. The agency said the storm's steady intensification over the past two days despite shifting westerly winds defies traditional logic.

RICK SCOTT: Hurricane Michael is a massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the Panhandle.

Scott said he talked to Trump early Thursday. FEMA is already on Floridian ground providing assistance in the form of the EPA, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

"When the water came in, houses started floating in front of our home", he said.

DAVID PEATON: Storm surge is the No. 1 problem that you could see from these storms.

High winds and heavy rains lashed the coast.

SULLIVAN: Right now he's working to get county residents protective measures before the hurricane makes landfall today.