Hurricane Michael leads to unimaginable destruction: 17 chilling photos

Cristina Cross
October 12, 2018

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It could be the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida panhandle in recorded history. Michael flattened homes, plunged communities into darkness and ravaged whole neighborhoods.

"It is a monstrous storm and the forecast (keeps) getting more risky", Florida Governor Rick Scott said.

"I think you're going to see it climb", FEMA Administrator Brock Long said of the death count at a news conference.

Michael is not a spent force.

He said: "My expectation is if you are a health care facility you have a responsibility to take care of those patients".

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. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 miles per hour, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

The damage could be particularly severe for the Carolinas, which are still cleaning up from Hurricane Florence.

As Michael pushed northeast, emergency services carried out dozens of rescues of people caught in swiftly moving floodwaters in North Carolina on Thursday.

"Why people didn't evacuate is something we should be studying", said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a former Florida state emergency management chief.

What the 9-foot (2.7-meter) storm surge didn't destroy, the 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds finished off. When it reaches the Carolinas, it's expected to bring 3 to 5 inches of rain to the Charlotte region.

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A driver in North Carolina also was killed when a tree fell on his auto. Three other people in Gadsden were killed in separate storm-related incidents, Hightower said.

All told, more than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power.

Six Florida counties remain under curfews, as work crews try to push debris off of roads so utility and emergency crews can start to fix the damage and reach people who need help.

A Virginia man was found dead after getting swept away from his vehicle in Pittsylvania County, state police said Friday. It doesn't include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

He described Mexico Beach as an "old old Florida town" that "feels like a trip back in time", and Panama City as "a vibrant seaside city" popular for families and students to vacation. Rescuers searched for survivors on Friday after one of the most powerful hurricanes in USA history slammed into the Florida Panhandle and killed at least seven people.

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.

She said authorities got a call Wednesday evening that the man was trapped but rescue crews were hampered by downed trees and debris blocking roadways. "You will not be able to get home if you live in or near the coast", he said. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, is still closed because of debris.

The letter to President Donald Trump declares their "full support" for the emergency declaration sought by Gov. Rick Scott, stressing the need for early preparations. "We will not rest or waver until the job is done and the recovery is complete".

"Things, we can replace", he said, speaking on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront". His office said he would tour the devastated areas next week.

Drone footage of Mexico Beach showed a stunning landscape of devastation. Houses - what was left of them - littered the street. "Houses that have been there forever are just shattered".

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