Florida town almost wiped off the map by Hurricane Michael

Pablo Tucker
October 13, 2018

Surging water filled their first floor, now muddy and ruined. Summers rode out the storm at his parent's house nearby. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm. In August 2004, Hurricane Charley strengthened from 110 mph to 150 mph in just a few hours before striking Florida's Gulf coast south of Sarasota. Officials predicted rebuilding costs in the billions.

The storm inflicted significant damage in the Carolinas, including flash flooding, downed trees on roads, and people who needed to be rescued from flood waters.

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.

The largest blackouts were 230,749 in North Carolina, 220,632 in Florida, 191,044 in Virginia and 105,761 in Georgia.

He said he did not know how long recovery efforts would take because "We need to restore basic utilities, clear our roads of trees and power lines, and assess the structural integrity of our buildings".

Under a perfectly clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged tentatively from darkened shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters. Before and after images reveal formerly lush green neighborhoods in the small community that have been completely wiped out - with most homes and businesses completely flattened or heavily damaged.


When they pulled up, ripped shingles, mangled cars and twisted street signs were scattered everywhere. The wind shredded the roof of his single-story home.

He got through a window of his home on to the top of his auto outside when Morales saw two neighbors wading through the rushing surge. He was scheduled to visit both Mexico Beach and Marianna with Florida National Guard troops on Friday, in addition to getting an aerial view of the damage to Gulf and Jackson counties.

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.

Many people who evacuated the Florida Panhandle now have nowhere to work or live.

David Blackston climbs a damaged stairway to check on his second-floor apartment in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Callaway, Fla., on october 11, 2018. The elementary school, the flight line, the marina and the runways were devastated. "And we will do it together", Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum tweeted Thursday night.

"I didn't recognise nothing". "So many lives have been changed forever".


The storm dumped 4 to 8 inches of rain across a swath of Virginia, possibly more in some areas, said Jeffrey Stern, the state's emergency management coordinator. It doesn't include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

An 11-year-old girl, Sarah Radney, was killed on Wednesday when a carport was torn away and sent hurtling into a modular home in Seminole County, Georgia.

In North Carolina's mountains, motorists had to be rescued Thursday from cars trapped by high water.

After devastating coastal communities in the Florida Panhandle, the remnants of the storm, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, killed five people as it passed through the U.S. state of Virginia. Four of them drowned, including James King of Dry Fork, Virginia. It adds that Hanover County firefighter Lt. Brad Clark was killed and several others were injured when a tractor trailer rear-ended a fire truck that was stopped at a crash site.

Search and rescue teams Friday painstakingly worked their way through trees knocked down by 155 miles per hour winds and the mounds of debris left behind after a wall of water up to 14 feet high slammed into several communities along the Gulf Coast. But it moved fast and intensified quickly, and emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings.

"This is a war zone", one Mexico Beach resident said of the damage left in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.


Now they have the grim task of accounting for all who stayed behind.

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