Time runs out for Florida residents to leave ahead of Hurricane Michael
12 October, 2018, 13:30 | Author: Darnell Taylor
It was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday near Panama City Beach, along a lightly populated stretch of fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches. By 8 a.m. Tuesday, top winds had reached 100 miles per hour (155 kph), and it was forecast to strengthen more, with winds topping 111 miles per hour (179 kph), capable of causing devastating damage. It was one of the most intense hurricanes ever to hit the US mainland and the most powerful one on record to menace the Panhandle, a roughly 200-mile stretch of fishing towns, military bases and spring-break beaches.
Sheriff Morgan said: "If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you".
Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson said the city, which could suffer some of the worst of the storm surge, is under mandatory evacuation orders.
Some regions of the United States are expecting 12in (30cm) of rain, with flash flooding possibly striking along a 300-mile stretch of Florida's coastline.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned it was a "monstrous hurricane", and his Democratic opponent for the Senate, Sen.
"The storm surge is absolutely deadly".
In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr. said the 2,300 residents were frantically preparing for what could be a strike unlike any seen there in decades. About 1,250 National Guard soldiers were assisting and more than 4,000 troops were on standby. However, forecasters always note it is not possible to say where a hurricane will land until it is closer to the coast. More than 80 deaths were linked to that storm, according to The Associated Press - including residents of a nursing home. "We are also working with federal, state and local officials to provide public shelter and accommodate those evacuating from other states", he said.
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Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency for 92 counties.
The National Weather Service out of Tallahassee has posted a map showing a projected landfall at 1pm EST on Wednesday, along with current imagery of the storm's path.
In Panhandle counties, most state offices, schools and universities were closed for the rest of the week. Residents also stocked up on food, water and gas.
Hurricane Michael reached extremely unsafe Category 4 status early Wednesday morning.
Both NOAA and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft have flown through the hurricane's four quadrants - and the NHC says, "The planes actually passed through the eye around the same time [Tuesday morning], and reported that they could see one another". TORNADOES: The threat for tornadoes will increase late tonight into Wednesday over parts of the Florida Panhandle, the northern Florida Peninsula, and southern Georgia.
Florida Fish and Wildlife has put 40 additional law enforcement officers on notice to deploy with a variety of special equipment, including boats that can be used for high-water rescues. On the other extreme are several models, including the European one, that predict Michael will move more slowly but reach SC near the coastline overnight Thursday and reach North Carolina's Outer Banks by late Friday.
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Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center in hard-hit Panama City, 32 km northwest of Mexico Beach, was treating some of the injured. Nearly 1.2 million homes and businesses were without power from Florida to Virginia on Thursday because of the storm.
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