United States hurricane leaves homes unmoored, power lines damaged

S Hurricane Michael drenches Florida Panhandle

With a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, a measure of a hurricane's force, Michael was the third strongest storm on record to hit the continental United States, behind only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.

As the catastrophic damage across the Florida Panhandle came into view 48 hours after the hurricane struck, there was little doubt the death toll would rise. Some residents stayed to meet it. Homes were pushed off their foundations and neighborhoods became submerged. "Homes are gone, businesses are gone", said Florida Governor Rick Scott.

The number of dead was expected to rise, but authorities scrapped plans for setting up a temporary morgue, indicating they had yet to see signs of mass casualties from the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S.in almost 50 years.

Relief supplies and critical life-saving equipment and personnel are heading into areas of Florida's panhandle ravaged by Hurricane Michael, but officials say the severity of the storm's devastation is limiting their ability to get into the most heavily damaged areas.

Along the 322km 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. "We had furniture in our house that wasn't even our furniture". "I have seen cotton that was being harvested yesterday".

"I didn't recognize nothing", said 25-year-old Tiffany Marie Plushnik, an evacuee who returned to a home in Sandy Creek too damaged to live in. "Can't tell the difference between what I've picked and what I haven't". "I just need to know". That home is now smashed, with no sign of the woman.

"It's like a bomb went off", Scott said as he toured the town of 1,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico.

Further complicating the response to Michael is that it comes so closely on the heels of another devastating hurricane in the region, Hurricane Florence last month.

"But you know what ... it's just stuff, it's just stuff", she told her husband, Raoul, as they walked through the ruins. "This is obviously the worst", said Stephanie Palmer, a FEMA firefighter and rescuer from Coral Springs, Florida.

Eight people, including Sweet, have died in Florida.

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In Seminole County, Georgia, a metal car-shelter lifted by a gust of wind hit a mobile home, killing a girl of 11.

A Florida town has been almost wiped off the map and at least six people are dead after Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida Panhandle, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Five people died in Virginia.

Senior said all the patients in the intensive care unit at Bay Medical Sacred Heart had been evacuated and moved to other hospitals with the assistance of ambulances.

Hurricane Michael is no more. Others were missing roofs or walls. He hadn't seen them in the two days since the storm passed, and hadn't been able to gain access to their apartment.

WMBB's General Manager Terry Cole said his staff worked and slept at a church next door Wednesday into Thursday.

The city's daily paper, the Panama City News Herald, was also battered by Michael and it still has no power. Locating people was a top priority for emergency crews on Friday. But the office was pretty much empty - the journalists were all out reporting on stories. The planet has warmed significantly over the past several decades, causing changes in the environment.

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere create an energy imbalance, with more than 90% of remaining heat trapped by the gases going into the oceans.

Forecasters today predict a storm's path with an accuracy that would have dazzled their colleagues of a generation ago, having narrowed and lengthened the famous "cone of uncertainty" to reflect their ability to forecast a storm's track five days in advance. Compare that to the preparations, infrastructure, and resources available in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit and it's not a mystery as to why they lost so many more people.

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