Totally blown away
250kmh hurricane destroys towns
SEARCH and rescue teams are still combing through destroyed communities on Florida’s Gulf Coast looking for survivors of Hurricane Michael, a monster storm that carved a swath of destruction and killed at least six people.
In Mexico Beach, a seafront town where the hurricane made landfall, entire blocks of houses were razed, boats were tossed into yards and the streets were littered with trees and power lines.
Governor Rick Scott said the storm had caused “unbelievable devastation” in his state’s far northwest, an area known as the Panhandle.
The priority was still the hunt for survivors among resi- dents who failed to heed orders to evacuate before the hurricane hit on Thursday morning (Melbourne time).
“I’m very concerned about our citizens that didn’t evacuate and I just hope that we don’t have much loss of life,” Mr Scott said.
More than 2000 Florida National Guard soldiers are helping in the recovery work.
There have been six confirmed storm-related deaths so far — four in Florida, one in Georgia and one in North Carolina.
Michael also caused damage in southern Alabama.
Last night, the storm had almost run out of steam in the Atlantic after crossing North Carolina and Virginia, where damage was minor.
President Donald Trump pledged to help the Florida victims.
“Our hearts are with the thousands who have sustained property damage, in many cases wiped out,” he said. “We will not rest or waver until the recovery is complete.”
Florida officials said more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in the state’s north. Nearly 20,000 utility workers are now restoring electricity.
Michael came ashore as a category 4 storm with winds of 250kmh, the most powerful to hit the state since records began in 1851. It was just shy of the highest category 5, defined as a storm with sustained wind speeds of 252kmh and above.
Home after home was torn from its foundations in Mexico Beach, a town of around 1000 people, leaving just bare concrete slabs. Roads were impassable and canals were choked with debris.
One resident told CNN: “When the water came in houses started floating. We had furniture in our house that wasn’t even our furniture. The surge had brought stuff in.
“There’s nothing left here any more. Our lives are gone here. All the stores, all the restaurants, everything. It’s hard to grasp.”
A storage facility in nearby Panama City Beach, housing hundreds of boats, was ripped apart by the strong winds with the roof shredding into strips of twisted metal.
Margaret Decambre rode out the storm in her Panama City fourth-floor apartment with her husband and cats.
“The wind was so hard that it was pushing water through windows and doors,” she said.
“We had half an inch of water on my floor and no way to stop it from coming in. It’s total devastation — no power, no water, no communication.”
Survivors (top) and rescue workers (below) at Mexico Beach on the northwest Florida coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.