Hurricane Michael devastates Florida with ferocity 'like nothing we've seen before'

By 6 AM on Thursday, heavy rain and wind had reached as far north as Charlotte, North Carolina and the Western North Carolina mountains.

Another storm-related death was confirmed in neighboring Georgia.

Other people were pulled to safety from wrecks and flash floods across the Carolinas and Virginia as tropical-storm force winds downed trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in. Michael snapped boats in two and hurled a large ship onto the shore, residents said.

Authorities are preparing to set up extra shelters and move people into more secure areas.

His house is 11ft above sea level and if the 4ft surge predicted for this part of the coast goes no higher, then he's confident his newly built home will survive.

The Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people before and after the hurricane came ashore, mostly from homes along the Florida coastline, and searched for more victims.

Gov. Rick Scott said search and rescue efforts would be "aggressive".

With many roads impassable, Scott says food and water "are being airdropped into the hardest-hit communities, and law enforcement are escorting resources on the road".

Severe flooding, heavily damaged buildings, uprooted trees and downed power lines appeared widespread in coastal areas near the storm's landfall. Michael flooded homes, tore roofs off and sank boats.

Television news footage showed homes submerged in floodwaters up to their roofs in Mexico Beach. "The best beach in the world". North Carolina ports were once again bracing for their second significant storm event in less than two months.

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But Miller chose to stay behind and weather the risky storm in her two-story, 111-year-old house, which is just 100 yards from the Apalachicola Bay coastline.

Even experts were surprised by how quickly the hurricane picked up speed. Some houses were simply wiped off of their foundations, with wreckage and sand covering the ground and streets.

Panama City looked like a war zone, with windows blasted out and streets littered with debris. "That's where you're going to see the extreme, extreme devastation". Hanson asked. "This city is destroyed. You're not going to recognize Mexico Beach". Numerous 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated.

By comparison, about 75,000 customers lost power during Hurricane Hermine, which struck Tallahassee in 2016, said Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor.

This afternoon Eastern North Carolina is likely to see sustained winds of 25 miles per hour and could gust up to 40 miles per hour, according to Austin. As it kept gaining strength, hurricane forecasters said, it "defies traditional logic". "All major roadways are passable", the city said, adding that 83 percent of its traffic signals were operating normally.

After it makes landfall, the storm is predicted to pass into Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday issued a state of emergency covering 92 counties - almost the entire lower two-thirds of his state.

Floridians are just beginning to assess the damage left by Hurricane Michael and preparing for a hard period of recovery.

In a letter to Trump on Wednesday requesting assistance, Scott wrote that the state had already spent close to $40 million on its response. "I've never seen anything like this". It was an outstanding yield of three bales an acre.

Some fear the toll can only rise as rescue teams reach isolated areas and work through storm debris.

Of the five deaths in Virginia, four were from drowning, according to member station WVTF.

More than 300 miles of coastline are now under threat, the National Weather Service has said.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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