Sur­vivors de­scribe the ‘ut­ter dev­as­ta­tion’ of Hur­ri­cane Michael

The Scotsman - - World News - By JAY REEVES

A fam­ily who sur­vived Hur­ri­cane Michael, the most pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane to hit the con­ti­nen­tal US in over 50 years, have de­scribed the “ut­ter dev­as­ta­tion” in their Flor­ida com­mu­nity.

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.

“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.”

Thou­sands of Na­tional Guard troops, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and res­cue teams still had much to do in the Flor­ida’s Pan­han­dle, the hard­est hit area. 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. Row af­ter row of beach front homes were so oblit­er­ated by Michael’s surg­ing seas and howl­ing winds that only slabs of con­crete in the sand re­main; this was ground zero when the 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.

At least eleven deaths were blamed on Michael and by early yes­ter­day it wasn’t over yet: a trop­i­cal storm long af­ter Wed­nes­day’s land­fall, Michael con­tin­ued pum­melling 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 car­splayed­outinspot­saround Vir­ginia and neigh­bour­ing North Carolina. Fore­cast­ers said Michael would in­ten­sify with gale force winds once it starts cross out into the At­lantic.

Michael was deadly, both in Flor­ida and be­yond.

An 11-year-old girl in Ge­or­gia died when Michael’s winds picked up a car­port and dropped it through the roof of her grand­par­ents’ home. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his car. Then, as Michael blew through Vir­ginia as a trop­i­cal storm, au­thor­i­ties said five peo­ple there were killed, in­clud­ing four who drowned and a fire­fighter whose truck was struck by a trac­tor-trailer as he re­sponded to an ac­ci­dent in heavy storm con­di­tions.

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.

Wor­ship­pers at­tend the Evening Divine Of­fice ser­vice at the Re­fec­tory Church of Sts. An­thony and Theo­do­sius at the Kyiv-pech­ersk Lavra last night in Kiev, Ukraine. The lead­er­ship of the Ortho­dox Church an­nounced yes­ter­day that it is will­ing to sup­port au­ton­omy for the Ukrainian Ortho­dox Church, which is cur­rently split be­tween two of­fi­cially un­rec­og­nized branches and one of­fi­cial branch that is ruled from Moscow.

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