Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Sci-tech | By Eric Barnett

'Changed Forever': Florida Panhandle devastated by Michael

'Changed Forever': Florida Panhandle devastated by Michael

Environment Canada issued a slew of special weather statements and warnings Friday for New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings. Michael flattened homes, plunged communities into darkness and ravaged whole neighborhoods.

Gov. Rick Scott said the Panhandle awoke to "unimaginable destruction". "Panama City is catastrophic damage".

Michael is not a spent force.

"Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area along the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions expected by tonight or early Wednesday".

When hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach is forecasting a storm he relies heavily on two factors: water temperature and wind shear. "I was picking three bale cotton (this week); today it is gone", cotton farmer and state Rep. Clay Pirkle said. They assessed the damage and embraced each other.

"You hope that somehow at the last minute a bunch of people got up and left or went somewhere else", Florida Senator Marco Rubio told CNN.

One of the hardest-hit spots was Mexico Beach, where Michael crashed ashore Wednesday as a Category 4 monster with 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 miles per hour, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992. "But I will confess that my biggest fear that this part of Florida, with its unique & genuine characteristics, will never be the same".

Catholic Charities USA is a member of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, and is a "trusted source" by the Federal Emergency Management Administration, where people can make contributions.

Michael left North Carolina and Virginia behind with rivers rising.

"It was just a freak accident, I never heard of anything like that", said her father, Roy Radney.

A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle.

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Sweet was killed in Gadsden County, Florida, near the state border with Georgia, when a tree fell into his home.

The Diocese of Venice, well south of the storm, had done likewise with a "Hurricane Prayer" that was first posted on the diocesan website, then which migrated to Twitter and retweeted. Officials didn't say whether anyone else was in the auto.

A man outside Tallahassee, Florida, was killed by a falling tree, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia died when Michael's winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home, debris striking her in the head.

Sarah had just started the sixth grade and joined the drama club and the band. Authorities did not discuss the circumstances of their deaths, but their bodies have been taken to the medical examiner's office to determine the cause of death.

The recovery in Florida will take time - especially in Mexico Beach, where Michael made landfall on Wednesday afternoon.

Mandatory evacuation orders went into effect in Panama City Beach and other low-lying areas in the storm's path.

A search-and-rescue operation led by FEMA did not find any fatalities in Mexico Beach as of Friday morning, but Donald Walker, the town's interim fire chief, said that is likely to change.

Scott urged residents to stay inside so search-and-rescue teams could get through, adding that many roads were impassable anyway.

Among those brought to safety were nine people rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of their home in hard-hit Panama City after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, is still closed because of debris.

There are long lines for groceries and other basic supplies at a Walmart in Panama City, but people are facing hardship with grit and determination.

Michael severely damaged cotton, timber, pecan and peanut crops, causing estimated liabilities as high as $1.9 billion and affecting up to 3.7 million crop acres (1.5 million hectares), said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist for the US Agriculture Department.

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