Photos and videos show mass destruction from 'Monstrous' Michael in Florida

Cesar Mills
October 12, 2018

At least two people were killed as Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S., slammed into the state of Florida, unleashing a trail of destruction by flooding beach towns, peeling off roofs and snapping trees before advancing to the Carolinas.

Michael struck Florida's northwest coast near the small town of Mexico Beach on Wednesday afternoon with top sustained winds of 250 kph, pushing a wall of seawater inland.

State officials said 285 people in Mexico Beach had refused to leave ahead of the hurricane despite a mandatory evacuation order.

Col. Brian Laidlaw told the 3,600 airmen stationed at the base just east of Panama City that he won't ask them or their families to return until their safety is guaranteed.

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As of Thursday, the death toll was two but authorities feared it could rise in the coming days.

General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm.

Hurricane Michael damaged the Florida Panhandle and crossed Georgia overnight with heavy winds.

At least seven people were killed in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina from falling trees and other hurricane-related incidents, according to state officials. Forecasters say the storm has already begun shedding its tropical characteristics but will take on a new chapter as a powerful extratropical storm with gale force winds on its trek out to sea. No injuries were reported, but there's roof damage to "nearly every home" on the base.

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On Thursday, authorities and residents will begin to discover the full extent of Michael's destruction in Florida and Georgia while the Carolinas brace for possible flooding, tornadoes and unsafe winds in numerous same areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence flooding.

By late Wednesday, the storm had moved toward Georgia.

Michael is "history-making, very devastating storm and one that we're never going to forget", said Michael Graham, the director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The governors of North and SC urged residents to brace for heavy rain and storm-force winds as Michael plowed northward up the Atlantic seaboard.

The 11-year-old girl died after the strong winds swept up a metal carport and blew it into her home, hitting her on the head.

An additional 16 roads have been closed, in addition to those closed by Hurricane Florence, due to downed trees and standing water, he said.

Haley Nelson stands in front of what is left of one of her father's trailer homes on Wednesday. The family had to wait over eight hours for paramedics to arrive due to the bad road conditions, Radney said. It was a clear warning that the storm should be taken seriously.

Numerous buildings in Panama City were demolished or left without roofs amid deserted streets littered with debris, twisted, fallen tree trunks and dangling wires. Entire roofs were torn away in the town of about 1,000 people, now a scene of utter devastation. It includes the privately insured wind and storm surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties and automobiles. The fate of many other residents was unknown, authorities said.

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