Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Death as record-breaking Hurricane Michael slams into Florida

Theresa Hayes | 11 October, 2018, 11:39

Hurricane Michael blasted parts of Florida's Gulf coast with 155mph winds last night, threatening devastation in flood-prone communities and posing a critical pre-election test for the state's political leaders. It later weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, and there were reports it spawned possible tornadoes in central Georgia.

That put it just shy of a Category 5 hurricane, which would require wind speeds of 157 miles per hour, but Michael is nevertheless one of the strongest storms to ever strike the American mainland. All the way up to the Carolinas, destructive flooding from the storm's rains is expected.

Officials urged residents to heed evacuation orders, particularly in coastal areas where some mandatory evacuations are already under way.

"You can not hide from storm surge".

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

"It's going to be terrible", Thomas told CNN.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, told President Donald Trump in a briefing shortly before the eye of the storm hit that it was the "worst kind" of hurricane.

"It really started as a tropical storm, and then it went to Category 1, then it was Category 2 and before you know it, it was Category 4", O'Shaughnessy said.

Television news footage earlier in the day showed floodwaters up to the roofs of many homes in Mexico Beach.

An estimated 375,000 people in more than 20 counties were ordered or advised to evacuate. "The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle".

Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican running for the US Senate in November's congressional elections, declared a state of emergency in 35 Florida counties.

A man was killed by a tree that crashed into his home in Gadsden County, Florida on Wednesday, as Hurricane Michael plowed into Alabama and Georgia, leaving behind a path of destruction in the Panhandle.

A restaurant fixture known as "Big Gus" is seen damaged by Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach. Some of those areas are still working to recover from Hurricane Florence.

A year ago saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area. Hurricanes form over the Atlantic and North Pacific oceans and cause most damage to the Americas while typhoons form in the Northwest Pacific Ocean, impacting Asia.

"In some sense it's a matter of chance that a hurricane happens to hit land just when it's peaking like this one", he said.

After Michael left the Panhandle late Wednesday, Kaylee O'Brien was crying as she sorted through the remains of the apartment she shared with three roommates at Whispering Pines apartments, where the smell of broken pine trees was thick in the air.