Mis­ery at depth of de­struc­tion left in the wake of rag­ing hur­ri­cane

The Herald - - INTERNATIONAL - JAMES HAMIL­TON

HUR­RI­CANE Michael’s pound­ing waves and winds have oblit­er­ated row af­ter row of beach­front homes af­ter the Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane slammed ashore on the Florida Pan­han­dle.

Re­cov­ery is just barely begin­ning from the catastrophic de­struc­tion even as a down­graded Michael spreads high winds, rains and flash-flood­ing mis­ery as far away as Vir­ginia.

More than 900,000 homes and busi­nesses in Florida, Alabama, Ge­or­gia and the Caroli­nas are with­out power in the wake of Hur­ri­cane Michael.

At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm, which is the most pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane to hit the con­ti­nen­tal US in over 50 years.

Yes­ter­day Michael stub­bornly kept up its punch while bar­relling up the south-east.

While fore­cast­ers said Michael was grad­u­ally los­ing its trop­i­cal traits, a new chap­ter would be­gin as an ex­tra-trop­i­cal storm, pre­dicted to in­ten­sify with gale force winds once it starts cross out into the At­lantic.

Linda Mar­quardt rode out the hur­ri­cane 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 is ut­ter dev­as­ta­tion in their Florida Pan­han­dle com­mu­nity, with roofs lifted off of build­ings and pine trees snapped in 155 mph winds.

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 Ms Mar­quardt, 67.

“A river just started com­ing down the road. It was aw­ful, and now there’s just noth­ing left.”

In North Carolina’s moun­tains, mo­torists had to be res­cued 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.

Mean­while, thou­sands of Na­tional Guard troops, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and res­cue teams still had much to do in Florida’s Pan­han­dle, the hard­est hit area.

Fam­i­lies liv­ing there now face a strug­gle to sur­vive in a per­ilous land­scape of shat­tered homes and shop­ping cen­tres.

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. Alu­minium cladding was shred­ded and homes split by fallen trees. Hun­dreds of cars lost win­dows.

The hur­ri­cane dam­aged hos­pi­tals and nurs­ing homes in Panama City, and of­fi­cials worked to evac­u­ate hun­dreds of pa­tients.

“So many lives have been changed for­ever. So many fam­i­lies have lost ev­ery­thing,” said Florida gover­nor Rick Scott, call­ing it “unimag­in­able de­struc­tion.”

Michael also was deadly, both in Florida and be­yond.

A man out­side Tal­la­has­see, Florida, was killed by a fall­ing tree, and an 11-year-old girl in Ge­or­gia died when Michael’s winds picked up a car­port and dropped it on her home, de­bris strik­ing her in the head.

A driver in North Carolina also was killed when a tree fell on his car.

Some fear the toll can only rise as res­cue teams get around storm de­bris block­ing roads and reach iso­lated ar­eas.

More than 375,000 peo­ple up and down the Gulf Coast were or­dered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in, but emer­gency au­thor­i­ties lamented that many ig­nored the warn­ings.

The Coast Guard said it res­cued at least 27 peo­ple be­fore and af­ter the hur­ri­cane’s land­fall, mostly from coastal homes.

Nine peo­ple had to be res­cued by he­li­copter from a bath­room of a home in hard-hit Panama City af­ter their roof col­lapsed, Petty Of­fi­cer 3rd Class Ron­ald Hodges said.

In hard-hit Mex­ico Beach alone, state of­fi­cials say, 285 peo­ple in Mex­ico Beach de­fied a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion order ahead of Michael.

Na­tional Guard troops made their way into the ground-zero town and found 20 sur­vivors ini­tially on Wed­nes­day night, and more res­cue crews are ar­riv­ing, but the fate of many res­i­dents was un­known.

Some fear the toll can only rise as res­cue teams reach iso­lated ar­eas.

„ Bar­ren trees line a street dam­aged by Hur­ri­cane Michael in Spring­field, Florida. It was the third strongest storm ever to hit the US coast.

Pic­ture: Linh Pham/getty

„ Com­peti­tors in the an­nual Bay Nui Ox Race in Vinh Trung Com­mune in the Mekong River Delta Viet­nam. Thou­sands of vil­lagers gather ev­ery year for the paddy field race.

Pic­ture: Bren­dan Esposito/aap

„ Re­sults for NSW Rac­ing’s multi mil­lion dollar race, The Ever­est, pro­jected onto the sails of the Opera House in Syd­ney. Anti-gam­bling protesters were fu­ri­ous.

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