Hurricane leaves Florida's Mexico Beach in shreds

Gwen Vasquez
October 14, 2018

What the 9-foot storm surge didn't destroy, the 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds finished off.

By midnight on Wednesday, it was downgraded to a tropical storm as it barrelled across central Georgia, still dumping torrential rain and packing fierce 96kmh winds.

Few buildings are left standing Thursday after Hurricane Michael hit Mexico Beach, Florida, leaving a destructive path while continuing its rampage across the southeastern U.S.

Aerial footage shows coastal cities in the Panhandle, like Mexico Beach, wiped out, CNN said. As it turns out, that's due to the fact that it started out as a tropical storm on Sunday, and only morphed into a hurricane on Tuesday.

"I think the people here have a great heart and a lot of resilience".

"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. Authorities did not discuss the circumstances of their deaths but their bodies have been taken to the medical examiner's office to determine the cause of death.

Emergency officials said they've received thousands of calls asking about missing people, but with cellphone service out across a wide area, they found it impossible to know who among those unaccounted for were safe but just unable to dial out to friends or family. Becker said about 55 people were in the shelters early Thursday. The first weather advisory about the storm went out on Saturday; days later, it became one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the US mainland. It's expected to dump from four to nine inches of rain on the already soaked Carolinas, a region still reeling from flooding as a result of Hurricane Florence last month.

The death toll from Hurricane Michael has risen to to 17 across four USA states as rescue crews hampered by communications failures searched the hardest-hit communities in the Florida Panhandle.

One who did, Albert Blackwell, was preparing on Saturday to cover holes in the roof of his apartment and take a chain saw to trees that fell and broke his windows just outside Panama City. He says the number of rescues remains fluid and there were no reports of deaths so far from the Coast Guard's missions.

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It could be weeks before power is restored to the most damaged parts of Florida.

Four pine trees had crashed through the roof of her apartment, almost hitting two people, and her one-year-old Siamese cat, Molly, was missing. 'It's absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic, ' she said.

An 11-year-old girl in Georgia died when Michael's winds dropped debris through the roof of her grandparents' home. One of the carport's legs punctured the roof and hit her in the head.

The full extent of the damage was only slowly becoming clear, with some of the hardest-hit areas difficult to reach because of roads blocked by debris or water.

By 11 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), it had 50-mph (85-kph) winds and had pushed northeast to within 35 miles (60 km) of Charlotte, North Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said.

And at that point, forecasters expect Michael to strengthen again over open water.

Dave Mullins looks out over the damage in front of his home, seen in background left, where he rode out hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.

With a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, a measure of a hurricane's force, Michael was the third strongest storm on record to hit the continental United States, behind only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.

A reporter and photojournalist from the Tampa Bay Times ventured there in the dark early Thursday, finding the town of about 1,000 nearly impassable.

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