Michael 3rd most intense US landfalling hurricane on record

Olive Hawkins
October 11, 2018

The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left wide destruction and at least one person dead and wasn't almost finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia toward the Carolinas, still reeling from epic flooding in Hurricane Florence.

Meanwhile, tropical storm warnings were in effect for parts of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Strong winds and rain did hit in Columbia County, but some people living in Lake City told News4Jax they feel like they lucked out, considering the damage from Michael could have been worse.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said on Tuesday an estimated 500,000 Florida residents had been ordered or urged to seek higher ground before the storm in 20 counties spanning a 200-mile (320-km) stretch of shoreline.

"We're going to do everything we can and send people out to keep people safe".

Hurricane Michael, which tore into Florida on Wednesday, went in just two days from tropical storm status to a Category 4 hurricane, on a scale with a maximum of five.

Forecasters said it would unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.

She said: "I'm anxious about my daughter and grandbaby".

In Panama City Beach, a building that was still under construction didn't stand a chance against Michael.

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As the Tallahassee office of the National Weather Service said on Twitter earlier Wednesday: "If you're not sheltered in place now, you need to be!"

Ken Graham, director of the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre, said Michael is "unfortunately, a historical and incredibly risky and life-threatening situation". "You know, that's hard", she said, choking back tears.

Around 375,000 people were under either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders across 18 counties in Florida in preparation of the storm, and a state of emergency had been declared in 35 counties prior to the storm making landfall.

The storm made landfall northwest of Mexico Beach around noon on Wednesday, with an eye so clear and wide it could easily be seen from space.

President Donald Trump has been in touch with state governors and said a federal emergency team is standing by and ready to help with storm recovery.

"This happened so quickly", he said.

Past year 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.

Without power, the city was plunged into darkness at nightfall and its flooded streets were mostly silent and devoid of people or traffic. That's a 72 per cent increase in wind speed in less than 33 hours.

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.

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