Hur­ri­cane Michael kills six in Florida

More than 900,000 homes and busi­nesses in Florida, Alabama, Ge­or­gia and Caroli­nas were with­out power

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - —AP

Panama City: Linda Mar­quardt rode out Hur­ri­cane Michael with her hus­band at their home in Mex­ico Beach. When their house filled with surg­ing ocean wa­ter, they fled up­stairs. Now their home is full of mud and ev­ery­where they look there’s ut­ter dev­as­ta­tion in their Florida Pan­han­dle com­mu­nity: fishing boats tossed like toys, roofs lifted off of build­ings and pine trees snapped like match­sticks in 155 mph winds.

Row af­ter row of beach­front homes were so oblit­er­ated by Michael’s surg­ing seas and howl­ing winds that only slabs of con­crete in the sand re­main, a tes­ta­ment that this was ground zero when the epic Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane slammed ashore at midweek. The de­struc­tion in this and other com­mu­ni­ties dot­ting the white-sand beaches is be­ing called catastrophic — and it will need billions of dollars to re­build.

“All of my fur­ni­ture was float­ing,” said Mar­quardt, 67. “’A river just started com­ing down the road. It was aw­ful; now there’s just noth­ing left.”

At least six deaths were blamed on Michael, the most pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane to hit the con­ti­nen­tal U.S. in over 50 years, and by early Fri­day it wasn’t over yet: a trop­i­cal storm long af­ter Wed­nes­day’s land­fall, Michael stub­bornly kept up its punch while bar­rel­ing up the South­east, dump­ing heavy rains and spread­ing flash flood­ing mis­ery as far away as Vir­ginia.

High winds, downed trees, streets in­un­dated by ris­ing wa­ters and mul­ti­ple res­cues of mo­torists from wa­ter­logged cars played out in spots around Vir­ginia and neigh­bor­ing North Carolina. And while fore­cast­ers said Michael was grad­u­ally los­ing its trop­i­cal traits, it was a new chap­ter would be­gin as an ex­tra­t­rop­i­cal storm pre­dicted to in­ten­sify with gale force winds once it starts cross out into the At­lantic.

In North Carolina’s moun­tains, mo­torists had to be res­cued on Thurs­day from cars trapped by high wa­ter. High winds top­pled trees and power lines, leav­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands with­out power. Flash flood­ing also was re­ported in the big North Carolina cities of Char­lotte and Raleigh. Sim­i­lar scenes played out in parts of Vir­ginia as the storm raced seaward.

All told, more than 900,000 homes and busi­nesses in Florida, Alabama, Ge­or­gia, and the Caroli­nas were with­out power.

Mean­while, thou­sands of Na­tional Guard troops, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and res­cue teams still had much to do in the hard­est hit area: Florida’s Pan­han­dle. Fam­i­lies liv­ing along the Pan­han­dle are now faced with a strug­gle to sur­vive in a per­ilous land­scape of shat­tered homes and shop­ping cen­tres, the storm de­bris spread far and wide.

In one com­mu­nity, Panama City, most homes were still stand­ing, but no prop­erty was left un­dam­aged. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around. Alu­minum sid­ing was shred­ded and homes were split by fallen trees. Hun­dreds of cars had bro­ken win­dows.

—REUTERS

An Amer­i­can flag flies amongst rub­ble left in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Michael in Mex­ico Beach, Florida, US.

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