Michael leaves 14 dead, nearly 1.3M lack power
Flash floods a concern along Atlantic Coast
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.
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.