'Horrendous. Catastrophic': Menacing Michael Leaves Florida Devastated, Heads for Carolinas

Hurricane Michael Devastates Florida Two Dead

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Panhandle thinking at first the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard.

Michael's storm surge pushed lead-gray water up to the rooftops.

Phil Klotzbach, Colorado Springs University meteorologist, ranked Hurricane Michael unofficially as the fourth strongest in USA history and third-strongest to hit Florida, as well as the most powerful hurricane to crash the Florida panhandle.

Those images form a marked contrast with what Mexico Beach looked like before the storm hit: an idyllic seaside town with sand, palm trees and homes looking out to the Gulf of Mexico. Rescuers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency used dogs, drones and Global Positioning System in the search. "We didn't think it was going to be this bad".

TRT World's Sally Ayhan has more details.

- Storm riders: Roughly 375,000 people in Florida warned to evacuate; many refused, including 285 people in Mexico Beach where Michael made landfall.

The small beachside town of 1,200 people seems to have been nearly completely flattened by the huge force of the storm which battered the town with winds of over 155mph and powerful storm surges.

"It's gone. It's obliterated", Baldwin said of the community a camera panned over the devastation. "This was my sixth (hurricane), so I thought I was prepared". Others were missing roofs or walls. Last year, they welcomed children who were displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. "Roofs are gone", Principal Britt Smith told CNN after talking by phone with some of those who did not evacuate.

"I've never seen anything like this craziness", said Tamara's café owner Danny Itzkovitz, 54, as he was busy grilling burgers. "So far, everybody seems to be very safe".

President Trump described the hurricane as "unbelievably destructive and powerful", contrasting it with last year's Hurricane Harvey, which caused in 106 USA deaths and massive flooding as it drifted for a week between Texas and Louisiana.

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The cyclone also uprooted several trees, electricity poles and communication towers, disrupting normal life. Sea conditions will remain rough to very rough along and off the West Bengal coast till Friday evening.

It weakened overnight to a tropical storm.

Conditions remain precarious in hard hit areas, especially Mexico Beach, Florida, where the hurricane crashed into it with 155 miles per hour winds and a storm surge of 9 feet.

It was still toppling trees with 80-kph winds and bringing life-threatening flash flooding to areas of Georgia and Virginia, still recovering from Hurricane Florence as it marched northeast.

Michael is expected to dump up to 7 inches of rain in parts of North Carolina and Virginia, the NHC said.

An 11-year-old girl in southwestern Georgia also died when a tree fell on her home, officials said. In North Carolina's mountains, motorists had to be rescued from cars trapped by high water.

Mexico Beach is on the west end of what's called Florida's Forgotten Coast, so named because it is not heavily developed like numerous state's other shoreline areas, with their lavish homes and high-rise condos and hotels.

Mr Long said many Florida buildings were not built to withstand a storm above the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Officials said more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Florida and Governor Scott said almost 20,000 utility workers had been deployed to restore power.

The Red Cross is also encouraging people to give blood.

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