Hurricane Michael causes ‘unimaginable destruction’

Greg Lawrence
October 13, 2018

With four other deaths confirmed in Virginia, the overall official death toll from Hurricane Michael is up to 11.

Surging water filled their first floor, now muddy and ruined.

Early Friday morning, Michael was dropping rain along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts as it moves eastward over the ocean, with sustained winds that have strengthened to 65 miles per hour.

The entire state of Alabama is under an emergency declaration, and governor Kay Ivey said she fears widespread power outages and other problems. The emergency call came in on Wednesday afternoon, but responders weren't able to get to the home until early Thursday because "the roads were so messed up", Brooks said. "People will just pack up and leave".

The dead include at least eight people in Florida, five in Virginia, three in North Carolina and one in Georgia. "Panama City is catastrophic damage". Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around. Homes were split open by fallen trees.

Hundreds of residents were rescued Thursday from cars, apartments and homes flooded by rushing water.

The Coast Guard said shallow water response crews had rescued about 40 people, in addition to having helped evacuate 142 nursing home patients to a hospital in Pensacola.

On the Panhandle, Tyndall Air Force Base "took a beating", so much so that Col. Brian Laidlaw told the 3,600 men and women stationed on the base not to come back.

"Hope is that even if the storm does come, even if I lose my auto, my house, my family, even if I lose my life, blessed be God", he said. The elementary school, the flight line, the marina, the runways - all were devastated.

"It's OK if you want to live on the coast or on top of a mountain that sees wildfires or whatever, but you have to build to a higher standard", he said.

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Gov. Rick Scott said the Panhandle woke up to "unimaginable destruction". "Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life".

Brad Rippey, a meteorologist for the U.S. Agriculture Department, said Michael severely damaged cotton, timber, pecan and peanut crops, causing estimated liabilities as high as $1.9 billion and affecting up to 3.7 million crop acres (1.5 million hectares).

It remains very large, with tropical storm-force winds extending outward up to 275 miles (445 kilometers) from its center.

In Georgia, an 11-year-old girl, Sarah Radney, was killed when part of a metal carport crashed into her family's trailer in Lake Seminole and struck her in the head, local officials said. Four of them drowned, including James King of Dry Fork, Virginia. Speaking on national morning show Fox and Friends, Scott said that "I think what people didn't realize was that it could get worse..."

- The storm is expected to move further inland later in the week, potentially bringing rain and heavy wind to portions of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

"But the full extent of the damage was only slowly becoming clear, with some of the worst areas hard to reach".

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were urged to evacuate as Michael closed in.

Virginia authorities are providing more details about the death of a firefighter who was responding to a crash north of Richmond as Michael lashed the state. Those who stayed behind may have expected Michael to remain a tropical depression. National Guard troops found 20 survivors initially Wednesday night, and more rescue crews are arriving. Landlines and cellphones also were down to the complex, which has almost 1,000 residents and more than 300 staff.

"You hope that somehow at the last minute a bunch of people got up and left or went somewhere else", Florida Senator Marco Rubio told CNN.

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