Michael leaves 14 dead, nearly 1.3M lack power

Flash floods a con­cern along At­lantic Coast

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Milwaukee Wisconsin - Steve Kig­gins, Ken All­tucker and Michael Braun

The death toll from Hur­ri­cane Michael in­creased to at least 14 peo­ple across four states, in­clud­ing five fa­tal­i­ties re­ported Fri­day in Vir­ginia, ac­cord­ing to the state’s Depart­ment of Emer­gency Man­age­ment.

Less than two days af­ter ar­riv­ing on the Florida Pan­han­dle as one of the most pow­er­ful hur­ri­canes in U.S. his­tory, a Cat­e­gory 4 mon­ster with 155 mph winds that sheared roofs from houses and build­ings and snapped trees and power poles, Michael moved off the East Coast early Fri­day morn­ing and into the At­lantic Ocean as a post-trop­i­cal storm.

Michael claimed lives in Florida, Ge­or­gia, North Carolina and Vir­ginia.

Four mo­torists drowned in Vir­ginia when their ve­hi­cles were washed off roads from heavy rain and flood­ing and a Hanover County firefighter died. An­other per­son’s car was re­cov­ered in Not­toway County, but emer­gency of­fi­cials had not found the per­son as of Fri­day., a Vir­ginia State Po­lice of­fi­cial said.

Vir­ginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the state was pre­pared and warned mo­torists about po­ten­tial dan­ger but added pow­er­ful storms can be “un­pre­dictable.”

“Not only are these storms dan­ger­ous to Vir­gini­ans, they are dan­ger­ous to our first re­spon­ders,” Northam said.

In North Carolina, a man and a woman died when their car col­lided with a tree that had fallen across a road, ac­cord­ing to Gov. Roy Cooper’s of­fice. An­other man died Thurs­day af­ter­noon in Ire­dell County when a tree fell on his car.

Nearly 1.3 mil­lion cus­tomers across five states were without power early Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to Pow­erOu­tage.US.

The fi­nal ef­fects of Michael were be­ing felt across parts of Mary­land, Delaware, Vir­ginia and North Carolina, where the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter warned of “life-threat­en­ing” flash flood­ing and “strong, pos­si­bly dam­ag­ing winds.”

Michael’s im­pact across the south­ern Mid-At­lantic states and the Caroli­nas, though, will be mi­nor com­pared with its trail of de­struc­tion in the Florida Pan­han­dle. Panama City, a pop­u­lar spring break re­treat, and Mex­ico Beach, an­other up­scale coast­line spot, were nearly un­rec­og­niz­able in Michael’s wake.

Home­own­ers from Panama City to Port St. Joe re­turned to see the path of de­struc­tion from fe­ro­cious winds.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials warned that evac­u­ated res­i­dents should stay away from storm-dam­aged ar­eas such as Bay County. They said de­bris, dam­aged gas and power lines and com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trans­porta­tion prob­lems are bar­ri­ers to a safe re­turn.

Four hos­pi­tals and 11 nurs­ing homes in Florida were closed Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to Kevin Yeskey, act­ing deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices.

RUSS BYNUM/AP

Rex Buzzett, far left, his son Josh Buzzett and neigh­bor Hilda Duren stand Thurs­day out­side the Buzzetts’ home in Port St. Joe, Fla., that was gut­ted by the storm surge from Hur­ri­cane Michael.

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