Hurricane Michael grows stronger on way to Florida

Christopher Davidson
October 11, 2018

At least two people were killed as Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S., slammed into the state of Florida, unleashing a trail of destruction by flooding beach towns, peeling off roofs and snapping trees before advancing to the Carolinas.

Authorities warned of coming disruptions for those in Michael's path. Homes were swallowed in storm surge. It's expected to cause life-threatening flash floods and send surges of ocean water into coastal areas along the Gulf, from Pensacola around the coast to Tampa.

Mr Rick Scott told a news conference on Tuesday: "Hurricane Michael is a monster storm and it keeps getting more risky".

"Today is the day".

The National Hurricane Center says the core of Michael will move across eastern Georgia into Central South Carolina on Thursday morning.

Gulf Power, which provides electricity in hard-hit Bay County, anticipates people in the impacted areas could be without power for weeks as the utility rebuilds parts of its system.

Mexico Beach, Florida, is not just destroyed.

As of 11 a.m. EDT, Michael was centred about 35 miles (60 kilometres) south of Charlotte, North Carolina, with winds of 50 mph (85 kph). As Michael moves inland, southern Georgia and southeastern Alabama can expect damaging winds, too. President Donald Trump has endorsed Scott and DeSantis.

Patricia Mulligan said she survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992, only to encounter the wrath of another storm Wednesday. "It looks like another big one".

Trump issued an emergency declaration for Florida, freeing up federal funds for relief operations and providing the assistance of FEMA, which has more than 3,000 people on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people, mostly from homes damaged along the Florida coastline, and searched for more victims. At the Tyndall Air Force Base, about 15 miles northwest of Mexico Beach, the monster storm pushed over trucks and peeled back the roof of a massive airplane hangar. But the surging seawater could also create perilous problems far from the coast, raising rivers and bays to risky levels as it pushes as much as 10 to 15 miles inland.

In Georgia, governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 92 of Georgia's 159 counties. "We know many people have been injured".

About 57,000 homes and condos were at risk of damage, according to real estate analyst firm CoreLogic.

Brooks said he wasn't able to get out much overnight to fully assess the damage in the county, because downed power lines and trees made roads impassable in the darkness.

"Where that becomes a factor is with the evacuation of some of the local populations", he said.

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Forecasters said parts of Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area - the crook of Florida's elbow - could see up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) of storm surge.

Travis Brooks, Director of Seminole County's emergency management agency, told ABC News there was "complete and total devastation".

A number mandatory evacuations have been ordered in Florida counties ahead of Michael.

Michael is shaking up the upcoming election in the battleground state of Florida.

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

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.

"Michael should weaken as it crosses the southeastern United States through Thursday", the NHC said.

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After carving an agonizing path of destruction across the Florida Panhandle, Georgia and southeastern Alabama for almost 10 hours and killing at least two people, the fierce storm finally slowed from top sustained winds of 155 mph to a tropical storm at midnight and continued to weaken early Thursday. NPR's Emily Sullivan reports state and local governments are preparing for torrential downpours.

At least two deaths have been reported from Michael, which made landfall on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm and has since been downgraded to a tropical storm as it moves into the Carolinas. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine. But it's still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, winds and a threat of spinoff tornadoes.

SULLIVAN: That's Florida Governor Rick Scott.

"It is going to go fast", Trump said in an interview with "Fox and Friends". National Hurricane Center, the storm made landfall before 2 p.m. ET.

"Water will come miles in shore and could easily rise over the roofs of houses", he said. As you can see, houses have been completely leveled.

High winds and heavy rains lashed the coast.

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