Hurricane Michael Decimates Florida Panhandle, Kills at Least One

A Florida woman who was planning her wedding is now planning how to rebuild her town, and possibly her home, after the devastation left behind by Hurricane Michael.

The storm, which had caught many by surprise with its rapid intensification as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico, made landfall north-west of the town of Mexico Beach at about 1:40 pm (local time) as a category four hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

The storm surge, which is the elevated sea level around the storm itself that pushes onto land as the hurricane makes landfall, has spread from the panhandle down the Florida peninsula, reaching as far as Tampa. By early Thursday, Michael had been downgraded to a tropical storm.

In the video wind gusts up to 150 miles per hour are seen ripping off the roofs of houses and buildings and even pushing down walls.

Roads were filled with piles of floating debris. "We have trees being uprooted, heavy, heavy rain".

On Wednesday, Google CEO Sundar Pinchai said the company will donate $1 million to recovery efforts for Hurricane Michael.

Up the coast in Pensacola, the water temperature is 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) - 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) higher than normal for this time of year. I've prayed for them every day, and with every hurricane that comes through, you never know what to expect from a hurricane.

At least two people, including a girl killed by a falling tree, have died as a result of Michael, according to reports.

See Hurricane Michael's path of destruction.

Smith, in Gadsden County, said the situation was unsafe even for emergency personnel. With the flash flood watch we will need to be on the lookout for flood-prone areas to see rapidly rising water.

"Yesterday, when I was running around getting my hurricane supplies and stuff, finishing my prep - two different worlds", one resident said.

Smith could not provide details on the victim. Power outages affected nearly 700,000 customers in the two states alone. "We haven't seen as robust of an evacuation response from the civilian population that we have seen in other storms".

And throughout the drive from Panama City, the scene was largely the same.

"Michael should weaken as it crosses the southeastern United States through Thursday", the NHC said.

By 5 a.m., Michael's eye was about 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of Augusta, Georgia, packing top winds of 50 mph (80 kph) and moving at 21 mph (33 kph) into SC, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

An estimated 375,000 people in more than 20 counties were ordered or advised to evacuate. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said. The designation allows federal funds to be provided for disaster relief and authorizes FEMA to coordinate disaster relief.

Accuweather predicted Michael's total damage and economic impact will reach close to $30 billion, which would make it one of the 10 costliest hurricanes in US history.

As Michael moves on to the Carolinas, there are serious concerns about deadly tornados and more flooding following Hurricane Florence.


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