Hurricane Michael slams Florida Panhandle
PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA — October 12, 2018
Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday with terrifying winds of 155 mph, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its destructive charge inland across the Southeast.
It was the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years and at least 6 deaths have been reported during its passage, including four people killed in Florida, a man killed in his car in North Carolina, and an 11-year-old girl killed in Georgia. The death toll is likely to rise.
In north Florida, Michael battered the shoreline with sideways rain, powerful gusts and crashing waves, swamping streets and docks, flattening trees, shredding awnings, and peeling away shingles. It set off transformer explosions and knocked out power to more than 388,000 homes and businesses.
Mexico Beach, Florida was “ground zero” for the storm, with entire blocks of homes completely wiped away. At least 280 people stayed in town for the storm, and many were unaccounted for.
Two major hospitals in Panama City, Florida were being evacuated after damage made conditions unsafe.
Search and rescue efforts went into high gear, with emergency responders arriving in the hardest hit areas and going door to door to find survivors. So far, Coast Guard crews in Florida have rescued 40 people and assisted 232.
Roads remained closed and power is out across much of the affected area. Officials urged people who evacuated not to attempt to return home until authorities give the all-clear.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced soon after the powerful eye had swept inland that “aggressive” search and rescue efforts would get underway as conditions allow. He urged people to stay off debris-littered roads.
“If you and your family made it through the storm safely, the worst thing you could do now is act foolishly,” he said.