Hurricane Michael leaves chaos in its wake
14 dead as historic storm moves back to Atlantic
One of the most powerful hurricanes in American history has moved off land, leaving a trail of destruction.
Michael made landfall Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds. When measured by its barometric pressure, Michael was the thirdstrongest hurricane to make landfall in the USA. High winds, rains and flash flooding were felt across multiple states, as far north as Virginia.
“So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said, calling it “unimaginable destruction.” Here’s what we know Friday:
Where the storm is now: Michael moved off the East Coast early Friday morning and into the Atlantic Ocean as a post-tropical storm.
Power outages: Nearly 1.1 million customers across five states were without power at 5:30 p.m. Friday, according to PowerOutage.US.
Damage: In Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around. Aluminum siding was shredded, and homes were split by fallen trees. The hurricane damaged four hospitals and 11 nursing homes in Florida, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients. All hospitals and nursing homes remained open in Georgia.
An insurance company that produces models for catastrophes estimated Michael caused about $8 billion in damage. Boston-based Karen Clark & Company released that estimate Thursday, which includes privately insured wind and storm-surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties and vehicles. It doesn’t include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.
Officials warned Friday that it was not safe for residents of Bay County and Mexico Beach, Florida, to return home. Tyndall Air Force Base sustained significant damage; Col. Brian Laidlaw told the 3,600 men and women stationed there not to come back.
❚ Death toll: Fourteen people have been reported killed across five states.
Steve Sweet, 44, was killed in Gadsden County, Florida, near the state border with Georgia, when a tree fell into his home. Authorities announced four total fatalities in Gadsden County on Thursday.
Sarah Radney, 11, who was visiting her grandparents in Seminole County, Georgia, was killed when a portable carport broke through the house and struck her in the head. Georgia authorities confirmed there was one other death in the state.
The Hanover County Fire-EMS Department said Fire Lt. Brad Clark died responding to a crash north of Richmond, Virginia, as Michael lashed the state. Four other victims in Virginia died by drowning, according to the Department of Emergency Management.
A driver in Iredell County, North Carolina, was killed Thursday when a tree fell on his car. A man and a woman also died in McDowell County, North Carolina, when their car crashed into a fallen tree.
❚ Rescues and recovery: The U.S. Coast Guard had rescued about 129 people and one animal as of 2 p.m. Friday and assisted 232 others, including 142 nursing home patients, according to a statement. The Red Cross sent 1,000 trained disaster personnel to help victims of the storm, with 48 mobile feeding units that can each provide 1,500 meals a day.
A bicyclist rides past a downed traffic light in Panama City, Fla., after Hurricane Michael tore through.