Hurricane Michael Devastates Florida, Two Dead

Greg Milam in Florida. Pic Sky News and WeatherNation

Tropical Storm Michael took its drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas on October 10, after battering Florida's Panhandle as the third most powerful hurricane ever to strike the US mainland and killing at least two people.

Authorities said at least two people have died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home and an 11-year-old girl killed by a tree falling on a home in southwest Georgia.

Michael barrelled across the southern US on Wednesday (Oct. 10), beginning the day as a Category 4 hurricane and rapidly losing wind strength as it traveled.

More than 1.2 million homes and businesses were without power from Florida to Virginia on Thursday because of the storm.

The storm's maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50 miles per hour and it was moving to the northeast at 21 miles per hour.

"The wind that came through here was surreal".

Rob Golding has opened his home in the Springfield Callaway suburb of Panama City to some of his neighbors whose homes were heavily damaged. "It's unlivable. It's heartbreaking".

Michael's intensification in the hours leading up to Wednesday caught many by surprise.

Much of downtown Port St. Joe, 19 km east of Mexico Beach, was flooded after Michael snapped boats in two and hurled a large ship onto the shore, residents said. The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence less than a month ago.

As of 11 pm Thursday, Michael's core was located about 15 miles north-northeast of Norfolk, Virginia, and was moving northeast at 25 mph, according to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC). Up to a foot (30 cm) of rain was forecast in Florida.

Homes washed away by Hurricane Michael were shown in this aerial photo, today, in Mexico Beach, Fla.

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Numerous beach's residents followed evacuation orders.

Multiple buildings in Panama City were demolished or left without roofs while deserted streets were littered with debris, fallen tree trunks and dangling wires. "We'll make it go fast".

"My God, it's scary".

'When I finally got through and spoke to my mom, my mom said Sarah had been hit in the head, ' Roy said.

Early Thursday, he said that Michael was "definitely one of the most violent [hurricanes] I've been in". Wind damage was also evident. Many trees are waterlogged due to the excessive rainfall from this past summer.

The department said that the fire engine had its lights and other emergency equipment activated, but roads were slick and the storm conditions were heavy.

So far, no counties along the devastated northwest Florida coast have reported deaths related to the storm. As many as 389,639 customers in Florida, 484,487 customers in North Carolina, 117,000 customers in Georgia, 24,000 customers in Alabama, 9,163 customers in SC and 61,067 customers in Virginia. "Houses that have been there forever are just shattered". "This happened so quickly", he said.

An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10 was reopened Thursday after it was shut down to clear debris form Hurricane Michael.

See Hurricane Michael's path of destruction.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the United States mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969.

"Hurricane Michael is the worst storm that the Florida Panhandle has ever seen", said Governor Rick Scott of Florida, where 375,000 people were ordered evacuated. By Tuesday it was clear that the storm would be one for the ages.

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