Trop­i­cal Storm Michael tar­gets South­east; 7 dead so far

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Politifact - Trevor Hughes and John Ba­con

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – The most pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane on record to hit Florida’s Pan­han­dle left destruction and death in its path Thurs­day as it weak­ened to trop­i­cal storm sta­tus but still brought havoc to Ge­or­gia, the Caroli­nas and Vir­ginia.

Hur­ri­cane Michael made land­fall on Wed­nes­day about 20 miles south­east of here with his­toric, 155 mph sus­tained winds, vi­o­lent waves and side­ways rain. Seven peo­ple have been re­ported killed from the storm: 5 in Florida, 1 in Ge­or­gia and 1 in North Carolina.

On Thurs­day, the true ex­tent of dam­age to this pic­turesque sea­side town was re­vealed.

Two hos­pi­tals were evacuated. Swaths of homes were de­stroyed; power lines snapped like tooth­picks; cars and trucks were flipped and smashed.

Au­thor­i­ties say it will likely be weeks be­fore roads are cleared and elec­tric­ity is fully re­stored.

“It got tore up. It looks like a bomb went off,” said Chris Allen, 48, as he sur­veyed the dam­age to the his­toric down­town.

In Panama City, the For­est Park neigh­bor­hood’s name­sake pine trees turned into de­struc­tive sledgehammers dur­ing the storm, crush­ing cars, roofs and out­build­ings.

“This was the scari­est ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve ever had in my en­tire life,” Panama Beach res­i­dent Peter Muller said. “The scope of the dam­age is ab­so­lutely mind-bog­gling. It’s like a war zone or some­thing out or a hor­ror movie.”

Michael didn’t stop here. Thou­sands of homes and busi­nesses were blown apart as the storm slammed across the Florida Pan­han­dle and roared, still with hur­ri­cane force, into Ge­or­gia.

Aerial views show en­tire neigh­bor­hoods wiped out. An 80-mile stretch of de­bris-strewn In­ter­state 10 west of Tal­la­has­see was shut down.

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