Catastrophic Destruction by Michael, Millions Without Power, Towns Destroyed

Via NOAA

Via NOAA

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.

For comparison, here's a look at the strength of and damage caused by other notable storms that hit the United States in recent years.

Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the US mainland, weakened overnight to a tropical storm but marched northeast on Thursday, toppling trees with 50 miles per hour (80 kph) winds and bringing "life threatening" flash flooding to Georgia and Virginia, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

Search and rescue teams combed through shattered U.S. communities on Thursday looking for victims of Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 monster storm which carved out a swathe of destruction in the Florida Panhandle, killing at least six in three states.

"It was so scary you'd poo yourself", said retiree Tom Garcia, 60, who was trapped inside his Mexico Beach home as water poured in to waist height. A few blocks inland, about half the homes were reduced to piles of wood and siding and those still standing had suffered heavy damage.

The speed of the storm barreling toward the Florida Panhandle - Michael was moving north-northwest at 19kph - was among the hazards worrying forecasters at the National Hurricane Center on Tuesday morning.

Although the storm weakened as it reached North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper warned citizens to remain vigilant.

Hurricane Michael struck on Wednesday with winds of 155mph (250km/h).

Six deaths have been confirmed - four in Florida, one in Georgia and one in North Carolina.

Four other people were killed in Florida, including one man who was killed by a falling tree.

Michael has left over 343,000 in the state without power.

In Roberta, Georgia, a reported tornado devastated the small town. It's unclear how many of them are missing. When a hurricane reaches 157 miles per hour, it is a Category 5, the highest possible.

How many people have died?

Often, storm surge - the rapid rise of water pushed onto shore as a result of a hurricane's winds - and rainfall can have more disastrous consequences.

Michael left Mexico Beach destroyed, with the storm surge ripping multiple houses from their foundations, sending them bobbing along the main road that runs through the beloved beach town. "But I will confess that my biggest fear that this part of Florida, with its unique & genuine characteristics, will never be the same".

Where has Michael hit and where is it now?

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Mishelle McPherson's elderly neighbour was among those who stayed behind.

Colleen Swab, her mother and her young daughter took shelter in a closet in Panama City Beach, Florida. "We're working diligently to get to everyone as quickly as we can". "It was too late", Swab said. Storm surge is worse now than it was 100 years ago, thanks to the rise in sea levels.

"We anticipate that number to continue to grow as neighbors continue to report outages and our system monitoring assets are returned to service", Tallahassee Commissioner Scott Maddox said in a Facebook post.

"During disasters, Floridians take care of each other", Scott said. As many as 389,639 customers in Florida, 484,487 customers in North Carolina, 117,000 customers in Georgia, 24,000 customers in Alabama, 9,163 customers in SC and 61,067 customers in Virginia.

More than 30,000 workers from at least 24 states have been mobilized to restore power, officials said. The fate of many residents is unknown, authorities told The Associated Press.

Federal officials were anxious that the fast-moving nature of the storm didn't give residents enough time to get out.

Michael's strength may reflect the effect of climate change on storms.

"We didn't expect it to get this bad", she told CNN via Instagram.

Trump said later from the rally, "Our thoughts and prayers on behalf of the nation to everyone out there in the path of Hurricane Michael".

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