Devastation in Florida, flooding elsewhere — WHAT'S HAPPENING

Lester Mason
October 12, 2018

"This morning, Florida's Gulf Coast and Panhandle and the Big Bend are waking up to unimaginable destruction", state Governor Rick Scott said.

"So many lives have been changed forever".

"The rapid intensification of these storms, which was part of what made them so risky and devastating, is something models are telling us global warming should make more common globally over the present century", said Gabriel Vecchi, one of the authors of the study and a climate scientist at Princeton University.

Search and rescue crews were expected to escalate efforts to reach hardest-hit areas and check for anyone trapped or injured in the storm debris. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, was closed because of debris.

Hurricane Michael struck Florida's north-west coast near the small town of Mexico Beach on Wednesday afternoon with top sustained winds of 155mph (250kph), pushing a wall of seawater inland and causing widespread flooding.

Row after row of beachfront homes were so obliterated by Michael's surging seas and howling winds that only slabs of concrete in the sand remain, a testament that this was ground zero when the epic Category 4 hurricane slammed ashore at midweek.

Rows and rows of other homes were reduced to piles of debris or crumpled and slumped at odd angles.

Michael had left a trail of utility wires on roads, flattened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church.

Authorities said about 285 of Mexico Beach's 1,000 residents failed to heed the mandatory evacuation order.

Michael also disrupted energy operations in the US Gulf of Mexico as it approached land, cutting crude oil production by more than 40% and natural gas output by almost one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated.

More than 370,000 people in Florida were ordered to evacuate but officials believe many ignored the warning.

Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for the elderly mother of a friend. Homes were swallowed in storm surge.

The sheer force of Hurricane Michael has been well analysed, but it's only when you see the everyday stuff of people's lives crushed, broken, smashed to pieces, that you realise they will be living with this long after we have gone. "Do you think it would have floated away?" Storm surge is worse now than it was 100 years ago, thanks to the rise in sea levels.

"All of my furniture was floating", she said Thursday. "It was terrible, and now there's just nothing left". "You want to check on things, and begin the recovery process", Mr. Scott said.

"You can't make sense of it, but what you do is you take the situation, and what we have to make certain that our kids know is that we must be resilient", Smith said.

The dead include four people in Florida, a child in Georgia and a man in North Carolina.

In Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around. Roofs had been peeled off and carried away. Aluminum siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees.

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

Mr Long said several hospitals in the Panhandle were hit by the hurricane and patients had to be evacuated.

In Seminole County, Georgia, a metal car-shelter lifted by a gust of wind hit a mobile home, killing a girl of 11.

One of the carport's legs punctured the roof and hit her in the head.

"It was kind of like a train coming through your neighborhood and we were watching trees fall and stuff like that", said Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith. Another 40,000 were without power in Georgia and 41,000 in Alabama.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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