‘Unimaginable destruction’: Hurricane smashes rows of houses

Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Florida Panhandle to reach trapped people in Michael’s wake Thursday as daylight yielded scenes of rows upon rows of houses smashed to pieces by the third-most powerful hurricane on record to hit the continental U.S.

Posted: Oct 11, 2018 12:25 PM

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Florida Panhandle to reach trapped people in Michael’s wake Thursday as daylight yielded scenes of rows upon rows of houses smashed to pieces by the third-most powerful hurricane on record to hit the continental U.S.

At least two deaths were blamed on Michael, and it wasn’t done yet: Though weakened into a tropical storm, it continued to bring heavy rain and blustery winds to the Southeast as it pushed inland, soaking areas still recovering from last month’s Hurricane Florence.

Under a perfectly clear blue sky, Florida families emerged tentatively from darkened shelters and hotels to an unfamiliar and perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

Power outages as reported by the Florida Division of Emergency Management

Over 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power.

“This morning, Florida’s Gulf Coast and Panhandle and the Big Bend are waking up to unimaginable destruction,” Gov. Rick Scott said. “So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything. ... This hurricane was an absolute monster.”

Hurricane Michael downed trees and power lines as it began its push inland Wednesday. Residents of Panama City describe what if felt like as the storm tore through their hometown. (Oct. 10)

But the full extent of the damage was only slowly becoming clear, with some of the stricken areas difficult to reach because of roads blocked by debris or water. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, was closed.

One of the hardest-hit spots was Mexico Beach, where Michael crashed ashore Wednesday as a Category 4 monster with 155 mph (250 kph) winds. Video from a CNN helicopter Thursday revealed widespread devastation across the town of about 1,000 people.

Entire blocks of homes near the beach were washed away, leaving nothing but concrete slabs in the sand. Rows and rows of other homes were reduced to piles of debris or crumpled and slumped at odd angles.

A National Guard team got into Mexico Beach and found 20 survivors overnight, and more crews were pushing into the area in the morning, with the fate of many other residents unknown. Authorities said 285 people in Mexico Beach had refused to leave ahead of the hurricane despite a mandatory evacuation order.

A day later, the beach town remained hard to reach by land, with roads covered by fallen trees, power lines and other debris.

The governor pleaded with people in the hard-hit areas to stay away for now.

“I know you just want to go home. You want to check on things, and begin the recovery process,” Scott said. But “we have to make sure things are safe.”

Thousands of National Guard troops, law enforcement officers and medical teams began making their way across the stricken zone.

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.

Heavy damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla.
Among those brought to safety were nine people rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of their Panama City home after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said.

The hurricane damaged hospitals and nursing homes in the Panama City area, and state officials brought in ambulances to evacuate patients. Authorities said the state mental hospital in Chattahoochee, which has a section for the criminally insane, was cut off by land, and food and supplies were being flown in.

As of 11 a.m. EDT, Michael was centered about 35 miles (60 kilometers) south of Charlotte, North Carolina, with winds of 50 mph (85 kph). It was moving northeast at 23 mph (37 kph).

Forecasters said it could drop up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain over the Carolinas and Virginia before pushing out to sea Thursday night.

In North Carolina, still struggling to recover after Florence, up to 6 inches of rain had fallen in the mountains by Thursday morning, and people had to be rescued from cars trapped in high water.

“For North Carolina, Michael isn’t as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert,” Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Along the 200-mile Panhandle, Michael washed away white-sand beaches, hammered military bases and destroyed coastal communities, stripping trees to stalks, shredding roofs, toppling trucks and pushing boats into buildings.

Authorities said a falling tree killed a man outside Tallahassee, Florida, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia was killed when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home. One of the carport’s legs punctured the roof and hit her in the head.

An Associated Press team drove for miles and encountered extensive destruction around Panama City. Though most homes were still standing, no property was left undamaged.

Downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled away and sent airborne. Aluminum siding was shredded to ribbons. Homes were split open by fallen trees.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20 feet high.

Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her home at Spring Gate Apartments, a complex of single-story wood-frame buildings. They piled up mattresses around themselves for protection.

A pine tree punched a hole in their roof, and Beu’s ears popped because of the drop in barometric pressure from the storm. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine.

“It was terrifying, honestly. There was a lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break at any time,” Beu said.

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard. But after the storm passed, she emerged to check on the cafe she manages and discovered a scene of breathtaking destruction.

“It’s absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic,” Crown said. “There’s flooding. Boats on the highway. A house on the highway. Houses that have been there forever are just shattered.”

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to evacuate as Michael closed in. But it moved so fast and intensified so quickly that people didn’t have much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 mph, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

___

Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Florida; Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Brendan Farrington in St. Marks, Florida; Russ Bynum in Keaton Beach, Florida; Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland, contributed to this story.

___

For the latest on Hurricane Michael, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

Terre Haute
Few Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 63°
Robinson
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 66°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 64°
Rockville
Scattered Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 59°
Casey
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 64°
Brazil
Few Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 63°
Marshall
Few Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 63°
Turning Cooler
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 295720

Reported Deaths: 8916
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1454625225
DuPage17786563
Lake17151488
Will14239382
Kane13285326
St. Clair6747192
Winnebago6300151
Madison5828143
Champaign481821
McHenry4653118
Peoria355552
McLean332523
Rock Island307177
Kankakee277677
Unassigned2562244
Sangamon247945
Kendall205425
Tazewell180927
LaSalle175857
Macon163645
DeKalb162239
Coles150831
Williamson142649
Jackson127625
Clinton122221
Adams119910
Boone115323
Randolph95811
Effingham8833
Vermilion8304
Whiteside78421
Ogle7486
Knox7043
Monroe69016
Grundy6876
Henry6795
Morgan67423
Bureau67112
Jefferson64138
Marion5732
Macoupin5677
Christian56511
Franklin5523
Stephenson5486
Union52424
McDonough49015
Logan4691
Crawford4664
Fayette4376
Woodford4327
Livingston4086
Shelby4084
Cass40411
Jersey39817
Lee3941
Montgomery38913
Iroquois36819
Saline3624
Perry35815
Bond3426
Warren3342
Douglas3187
Wayne3005
Jo Daviess2752
Lawrence2633
Carroll2386
Greene23513
Hancock2283
Moultrie2224
Richland2206
Cumberland2195
Washington2191
Jasper21210
Fulton1900
Clark1833
Pulaski1831
White1760
Johnson1630
Wabash1623
Mason1611
Clay1590
Piatt1430
Mercer1415
Pike1391
De Witt1292
Menard1281
Massac1172
Edgar1168
Marshall1110
Ford1085
Alexander851
Scott800
Gallatin752
Hamilton742
Henderson710
Brown690
Edwards680
Putnam630
Calhoun620
Stark562
Schuyler500
Hardin390
Pope301
Out of IL30

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 120019

Reported Deaths: 3632
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21671768
Lake10772325
St. Joseph6763116
Elkhart6755112
Allen6411206
Hamilton4997110
Vanderburgh390632
Hendricks2789125
Monroe270837
Tippecanoe265213
Johnson2383126
Clark229357
Porter223347
Delaware204162
Cass19619
Vigo190628
Madison173575
LaPorte153241
Warrick142847
Floyd142064
Howard134164
Kosciusko130117
Bartholomew120357
Marshall102924
Dubois102119
Boone100346
Grant97237
Hancock95143
Noble93532
Henry83027
Wayne78115
Jackson77910
Morgan73940
Shelby68929
Daviess68429
Dearborn67928
LaGrange65111
Clinton64414
Harrison60124
Putnam59211
Gibson5606
Knox54410
Lawrence53029
Montgomery51222
DeKalb50111
White49114
Decatur46339
Miami4394
Greene43236
Fayette42314
Jasper4032
Steuben3997
Scott39611
Posey3712
Sullivan33912
Jennings31812
Clay3155
Franklin31525
Ripley3098
Whitley2956
Orange28924
Adams2833
Carroll28313
Wabash2758
Starke2747
Wells2734
Washington2702
Spencer2693
Huntington2543
Jefferson2543
Fulton2472
Tipton23323
Randolph2308
Perry22613
Jay1931
Pike1771
Newton17511
Owen1721
Martin1690
Rush1584
Vermillion1330
Fountain1302
Blackford1243
Pulaski1141
Crawford1110
Parke1112
Brown1023
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland680
Warren411
Unassigned0227