MICHAEL’S RU­INOUS MARCH

Toll at least 6 as storm hits N.C. Nearly 1 mil­lion are with­out power across the South

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY DAVID BOROFF AND KATE FELD­MAN

Hur­ri­cane Michael weak­ened to a trop­i­cal storm in the South­east on Thurs­day, but at least six peo­ple have been killed and of­fi­cials fear that num­ber may rise.

Michael’s eye was about 20 miles west of Raleigh as of 5 p.m., ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter in Miami, and packed top winds of 50 mph.

“Un­for­tu­nately in these types of things as we go through and sift through dam­age, ul­ti­mately those who didn’t heed warn­ings, par­tic­u­larly around the Mex­ico Beach area, we typ­i­cally see deaths climb, un­for­tu­nately,” FEMA ad­min­is­tra­tor Brock Long told CBS News on Thurs­day.

“This hur­ri­cane was an ab­so­lute mon­ster,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, ac­cord­ing to CBS. “And the dam­age left in its wake is still yet to be fully un­der­stood.”

Fall­ing trees killed a man in the Florida Pan­han­dle and an 11-year-old girl in south­west Ge­or­gia, ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties. Both were in their homes when they were killed.

Three other peo­ple were also killed in Gad­sen County, where the uniden­ti­fied man died.

In Ire­dell County, North Car­olina, a 38-year-old man was killed when a tree fell onto his mov­ing car.

“It’s ab­so­lutely hor­ren­dous. Cat­a­strophic,” Pan­han­dle res­i­dent Sally Crown said. “There’s flood­ing. Boats on the high­way. A house on the high­way. Houses that have been there for­ever are

just shat­tered.”

While no longer a Cat­e­gory 4 storm, Michael is the third most pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane to hit the U.S. main­land in recorded his­tory, based on its in­ter­nal baro­met­ric pres­sure. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strong­est.

Vir­ginia Gov. Ralph Northam de­clared a state of emer­gency in an­tic­i­pa­tion of Michael’s rem­nant pass­ing through the state.

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

Thou­sands of res­cue per­son­nel con­tinue to look for sur­vivors amid the wreck­age of homes where peo­ple ig­nored evac­u­a­tion or­ders. Scott said res­cue ef­forts would be “ag­gres­sive.”

“Hur­ri­cane Michael can­not break Florida,” the gov­er­nor said.

A large men­tal hospi­tal in Chat­ta­hoochee, Fla., is “en­tirely cut off ” by land, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials, so food and sup­plies are be­ing dropped in from the air. The fa­cil­ity, which in­cludes a sec­tion for the crim­i­nally in­sane, has not been breached.

The scene in Panama City was stun­ning, with ply­wood and metal fly­ing off the front of a Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press. Much of the awning ended up on ve­hi­cles parked be­low it.

“Oh my God, what are we see­ing?” evac­uee Rachel Franklin said with her mouth hang­ing open.

A pine tree punched a hole in the roof of Spring Gate Apart­ments, also in Panama City. Vance Beu said his ears popped when the baro­met­ric pres­sure went down. He said the roar of the winds sounded like a jet en­gine.

“It was ter­ri­fy­ing, hon­estly,” he said. “There was a lot of noise. We thought the win­dows were go­ing to break at any time.”

As of 5 p.m., Trop­i­cal Storm Michael is ex­pected to travel across east­ern North Car­olina and south­east­ern Vir­ginia Thurs­day evening be­fore mov­ing into the At­lantic Ocean.

Boats (left) sit among the rub­ble in Panama City, while man (right) makes his way through flood in St. Marks, Fla., near Tal­la­has­see.

Sun­shine af­ter storm high­lights dev­as­ta­tion in Florida pan­han­dle town of Mex­ico Beach, where Hur­ri­cane Michael came ashore Wed­nes­day. Evac­uees hud­dle (above) in Panama City school, while aerial view (be­low) re­veals ex­tent of wreck­age in Mex­ico Beach.

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