Published: Mon, October 15, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Hurricane Michael has arrived, and it's stronger than anyone expected

Hurricane Michael has arrived, and it's stronger than anyone expected

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969.

But Miller chose to stay behind and weather the unsafe storm in her two-story, 111-year-old house, which is just 100 yards from the Apalachicola Bay coastline.

Search and rescue teams are still working in areas across the Florida Panhandle to reach people who are trapped.

Under a clear blue sky Thursday, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged from shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

Almost 950,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Alabama, the Carolinas and Georgia on Thursday.

Interstate 10 - a major east-west thoroughfare - was shut down for eighty miles in both directions due to debris from the storm.

Haley Nelson inspects the remnants of her family properties in the Panama City Fla. area after Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm along Florida's Panhandle on Wednesday
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Michael was a Category 4 storm, just shy of a rare Category 5, when it came ashore. "Everything's gone. I didn't even know our road was our road", said 25-year-old Tiffany Marie Plushnik, an evacuee who returned to find her home in Sandy Creek too damaged to live in.

Thousands of houses were destroyed by the third-most powerful hurricane on record to hit the continental US.

The hurricane, the fiercest to hit Florida in 80 years, pummelled communities across the Panhandle and turned streets into roof-high waterways.

Florida's disjointed property insurance system that relies nearly exclusively on small and midsize companies will take a multi-billion dollar loss from Hurricane Michael, but has sufficient reserves and backups that providers should be able to pay claims without problems.

Florida emergency officials say they're starting to transfer patients out of damaged health care facilities.

320,000 people did not evacuate despite official orders and dire warnings as category-4 Hurricane Michael approached the Florida coast.

The beach town was hard to reach by land, with roads covered by fallen trees, power lines and other debris.

Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle near Mexico Beach and Panama City on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane with whopping 155 miles per hour winds, making it just short of a Category 5, the strongest on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.

"When state and local officials tell you to get out, dang it, do it. Get out", he said.

So far, counties along the hard-hit northwest Florida coast have reported no deaths related to the storm.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to evacuate as Michael closed in. "This hurricane was an absolute monster". But the fate of many residents was unknown. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Stands of pine trees were flattened.

Thirty-two kilometres south of Mexico Beach, floodwaters were more than 2m deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane centre chief Ken Graham said.

"People think of us as having doctors and nurses", he said.

Panama City port worker Josh Jackson, 29, had three cars damaged.

Seminole County Emergency Management Agency director Travis Brooks said it wasn't a tree but a carport that hit her home and killed her.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned of possible flash flooding Thursday in parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia because of heavy rains from Michael.

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