Residents Prepare to Evacuate as Hurricane Michael Heads Toward Florida Panhandle

Cesar Mills
October 11, 2018

The Gulf Coast of Florida is already feeling impacts of Hurricane Michael with minor coastal flooding due to storm surge and high tide.

The storm then looks destined to move through the southeast US on Thursday as a tropical storm, bringing heavy rains to Georgia and the Carolinas, before moving back out to the Atlantic on Friday.

"Guess what? That's today", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said.

In the early hours of Thursday, Hurricane Michael's maximum sustained winds decreased to 75mph, the NHC said in a bulletin.

The hurricane's effects will be felt far from its eye.

Storm surge and waves from Hurricane Michael batter beachfront homes on October 10, 2018, in the Florida Panhandle community of Shell Point Beach.

"Hurricane Michael is a massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the Panhandle", Scott said.

Mandatory evacuation orders went into effect Tuesday morning for some 120,000 people in Panama City Beach and across other low-lying parts of the coast. "The center of Michael is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night, Oct. 10 and Thursday, Oct. 11".

Michael battered the shoreline with sideways rain, powerful gusts and crashing waves, swamping streets and docks, flattening trees, stripped away leaves, shredding awnings and peeling away shingles. The hurricane warning also covers southwestern Georgia, including Albany.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told residents: "I know people are tired from Florence, but don't let this storm catch you with your guard down".

Briefing President Donald Trump at the White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Brock Long said Michael was the most intense hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since 1851. It developed into a hurricane Monday.

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Michael wasn't quite done wreaking havoc in the Caribbean.

According to the Associated Press, six people were killed in Honduras, four in Nicaragua and three in El Salvador.

The governor activated 2,000 members of the Florida National Guard on Tuesday to deal with the fast-moving storm, adding he is very concerned about a potentially "historic" storm surge when it makes landfall.

The storm left almost 500,000 people without electricity in Florida, Alabama and Georgia, emergency services say.

More than 370,000 people in Florida were ordered to evacuate, but officials believe many ignored the warning.

An estimated 288,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida.

"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient", said Scott. "Take care of them", he said.

"There are so many downed power lines and trees that it's nearly impossible to get through the city", Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson said. Many filled sandbags, boarded up homes and lined up to buy gas and groceries.

This image captured by NASA shows Hurricane Michael, while still a Category 1 storm, as it moves through the Gulf.

With Election Day less than a month away, the crisis was seen as a test of leadership for Scott, a Republican running for the Senate, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor. "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water' and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".

Other reports by GizPress

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