MICHAEL’S RUINOUS MARCH
Toll at least 6 as storm hits N.C. Nearly 1 million are without power across the South
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
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.