Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
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Hurricane Michael's death toll rises after five killed in Virginia

Hurricane Michael's death toll rises after five killed in Virginia

Michael had rapidly intensified as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico in recent days, growing from a tropical storm into a Category 4 hurricane in about 40 hours and catching many by surprise.

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard. When their house filled with surging ocean water, they fled upstairs.

- Top winds: 155 miles per hour (250 kph), strong enough to completely destroy homes and cause weekslong power outages. The destruction along Florida's white-sand northern Gulf Coast was called catastrophic.

"All of my furniture was floating", said Marquardt, 67. "Our reward isn't just in this life but in the life to come". "People will just pack up and leave".

Nearly 1.1 million homes and businesses were without power from Florida to Virginia early on Friday, according to utility companies.

Hurricane Michael brings widespread damage and destruction to the Florida Panhandle; Mike Tobin reports.

As one of the strongest hurricanes ever to make USA landfall, Hurricane Michael wrecked extensive damage, but the theme emerging Thursday was that a combination of deft forecasting, quick emergency response, and a fortuitous path prevented the disaster from being much worse.

Some of the hardest-hit places are Mexico Beach and other communities along the Panhandle, where Michael razed buildings, snapped huge trees in half and threw debris over roads. Before and after images reveal formerly lush green neighborhoods in the small community that have been completely wiped out - with most homes and businesses completely flattened or heavily damaged. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around. Roofs were peeled away, sent airborne, and homes were split open by fallen trees.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows. Numerous 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated.

- Powerful pressure: 919 millibars minimum pressure in the eye, the third most intense hurricane landfall in the recorded history. The elementary school, the flight line, the marina and the runways were devastated.

"I was sinkin', sinkin' fast.when I turned I immediately started sinkin' and I knew that I had hit the ditch and I put it in reverse and of course, it didnt go anywhere".

"Please don't come down", Linda Albrecht said.

"Homes are gone, businesses are gone", said Florida Governor Rick Scott. "From satellite and radar monitoring, to computer models of track and intensity, and to dissemination of warnings by the NWS, private forecasters, the media, and local and national emergency managers, many lives were saved". Total damages from storm surge are estimated to be $3.7 billion, of which about ten percent will be insured. It doesn't include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

An American flag flies amongst rubble left in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla.

Florida officials say one man died when he was crushed in an incident involving a tree in Gadsden County.

A 38-year-old motorist also was killed by a massive tree in Statesville, NC, and 11-year-old Sarah Radney of Georgia was killed when a metal carport struck her in the head as she hunkered down in her Seminole County home. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle.

One North Carolina death is among at least 11 deaths tied so far to the storm as of Friday morning, according to The New York Times and Washington Post. Four of them drowned, including James King of Dry Fork, Virginia. "You're not going to recognize Mexico Beach".

A Virginia firefighter - Lt. Brad Clark - was killed when a tractor-trailer slammed into his fire truck on a slick road in the storm.

Michael has since been downgraded to a tropical storm as it moves through the Carolinas, which are still recovering from last month's Hurricane Florence.

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

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in.

Now they have the grim task of accounting for all who stayed behind.

Michael earlier reportedly killed at least 13 people as it passed through Central America: six in Honduras, four in Nicaragua and three in El Salvador.

Numerous beach's residents followed evacuation orders.

'Do you think her body would be here?' Flashing flooding also was reported in the big North Carolina cities of Charlotte and Raleigh.

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