Michael leaves path of de­struc­tion

HUR­RI­CANE SMASHES ROWS OF HOUSES IN FLOR­IDA

Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS WEATHER - Jay Reeves and Bren­dan Far­ring­ton

The dev­as­ta­tion in­flicted by Hur­ri­cane Michael came into fo­cus Thurs­day with rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces, and res­cue crews be­gan mak­ing their way into the stricken ar­eas in hopes of ac­count­ing for hun­dreds of peo­ple who may have stayed be­hind.

At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane to hit the con­ti­nen­tal U.S. in over 50 years, and it wasn’t done yet: Though re­duced to a trop­i­cal storm, it brought flash flood­ing to North Carolina and Vir­ginia, soak­ing ar­eas still re­cov­er­ing from Hur­ri­cane Florence.

Un­der a per­fectly clear blue sky, fam­i­lies liv­ing along the Flor­ida Pan­han­dle emerged from dark­ened shel­ters and ho­tels to a per­ilous land­scape of shat­tered homes and shop­ping cen­tres, beep­ing se­cu­rity alarms, wail­ing sirens and hov­er­ing he­li­copters.

Gov. Rick Scott said the Pan­han­dle woke up to “unimag­in­able de­struc­tion.”

“So many lives have been changed for­ever. So many fam­i­lies have lost ev­ery­thing,” he said.

The full ex­tent of Michael’s fury was only slowly be­com­ing clear, with some of the hard­est-hit ar­eas dif­fi­cult to reach be­cause of roads blocked by de­bris or wa­ter. An 80mile stretch of In­ter­state 10, the main east-west route along the Pan­han­dle, was closed.

Some of the worst dam­age was in Mex­ico Beach, where the hur­ri­cane crashed ashore Wed­nes­day as a Cat­e­gory 4 mon­ster with 155 mph winds and a storm surge of nine feet. Video from a drone re­vealed widespread dev­as­ta­tion across the town of about 1,000 peo­ple.

En­tire blocks of homes near the beach were oblit­er­ated, re­duced to noth­ing but con­crete slabs in the sand. Rows and rows of other homes were turned into piles of splin­tered lum­ber or were crum­pled and slumped at odd an­gles. En­tire roofs were torn away and dropped onto a road.

State of­fi­cials said 285 peo­ple in Mex­ico Beach had de­fied a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­der ahead of the storm.

Na­tional Guard troops made their way into the ground-zero town and found 20 sur­vivors Wed­nes­day night, and more res­cue crews were push­ing into the area, with the fate of many res­i­dents un­known.

As­so­ci­ated Press photo

The coastal town­ship of Mex­ico Beach, Fla., lays dev­as­tated on Thurs­day af­ter Hur­ri­cane Michael made land­fall Wed­nes­day in the Flor­ida Pan­han­dle.

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