Six dead in storm

HUR­RI­CANE MICHAEL WREAKS HAVOC IN FLORIDA’S COASTAL TOWNS

Shepparton News - - NATIONAL AND WORLD NEWS -

MEX­ICO BEACH: Hur­ri­cane Michael’s vi­o­lence was vis­i­ble in shat­tered Florida coastal towns, where rows of homes were ripped from foun­da­tions and roofs were peeled off schools by the near-record-force storm blamed for six deaths.

Michael smashed into Florida’s north-west coast near the small town of Mex­ico Beach on Wednesday (United States time) with screech­ing 250 km/h winds, push­ing a wall of sea­wa­ter in­land.

Video shot by CNN from a he­li­copter showed homes clos­est to the wa­ter in Mex­ico Beach had lost all but their foun­da­tions. A few blocks in­land, about half the homes were re­duced to piles of wood and sid­ing and those still stand­ing had suf­fered heavy dam­age.

Michael, the third-most pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane ever to hit the US main­land, weak­ened overnight to a trop­i­cal storm and pushed north­east, bring­ing drench­ing rains to Ge­or­gia and the Caroli­nas, which are still re­cov­er­ing from Hur­ri­cane Florence last month.

Michael killed at least six peo­ple in Florida, Ge­or­gia and North Carolina, with the deaths due to fall­ing trees and other hur­ri­cane-re­lated in­ci­dents, of­fi­cials and me­dia said.

In Panama City, 32 km north-west of Mex­ico Beach, build­ings were crushed and boats were scat­tered around. Michael left a trail of util­ity wires on roads, flat­tened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church.

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

Florida Gover­nor Rick Scott told the Weather Chan­nel the dam­age from Panama City down to Mex­ico Beach was ‘‘way worse than any­body ever an­tic­i­pated’’.

Michael, a Cat­e­gory 4 storm on the five-step Saf­fir-Simp­son hur­ri­cane in­ten­sity scale when it came ashore, was caus­ing flash flood­ing on Thurs­day in parts of North Carolina and Vir­ginia, where some ar­eas could get as much as 23 cm of rain, the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said.

The num­ber of peo­ple in emer­gency shel­ters is ex­pected to swell to 20 000 across five states.

US Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment me­te­o­rol­o­gist Brad Rippey said Michael had se­verely dam­aged cot­ton, tim­ber, pe­can and peanuts, caus­ing es­ti­mated li­a­bil­i­ties as high as $US1.9 bil­lion.

Pic­ture: AP/David Goldma

Dev­as­ta­tion: Matthew Wash­ing­ton walks in to sal­vage items from the dam­aged Thai restau­rant he owns with his wife in the af­ter­math of hur­ri­cane Michael in Call­away, Florida.

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