Michael flattens town in Florida
SEARCH and rescue teams are still combing through destroyed communities on Florida’s Gulf Coast looking for survivors of Hurricane Michael, a monster storm which carved out a swath of destruction and killed at least six people in three states.
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 residents who failed to heed orders to evacuate before the hurricane hit on Thursday morning (AEDT).
“I’m very concerned about our citizens that didn’t evacuate and I just hope that, you know, 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 Michael 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, saying: “Our hearts are with the thousands who have sustained property damage, in many cases entirely wiped out. 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 250km/h, the most powerful to hit the Florida since records began in 1851. It was just shy of the highest category 5.
Home after home was razed 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 anymore,” he said of the town. “Our lives are gone here. All the stores, all the restaurants, everything.”
THERE’S NOTHING LEFT HERE ANYMORE OUR LIVES ARE GONE HERE. ALL THE STORES, ALL THE RESTAURANTS, EVERYTHING
Michael Williams, 70, of Springfield, Florida waves to passing motorists while looking for food and water. Fallen trees blocked his driveway.
Elizabeth Hanson and her daughter, Emaly Hanson hug a neighbour in Mexico Beach.
An aerial view of storm-damaged boats in Panama City, Florida.