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Hurricane Michael Decimates Florida Panhandle, Kills at Least One

Hurricane Michael Decimates Florida Panhandle, Kills at Least One

Florida Governor Rick Scott promised a strong relief effort from his administration Thursday after the state was slammed by Hurricane Michael, the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in 50 years.

Now downgraded to a Category 3, earlier the extremely unsafe Category 4 hurricane produced winds of up to 250kmh when it made landfall around 1.30pm Wednesday (local time) in Mexico Beach, about 30 kilometres southeast of Panama City.

The storm's maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50 miles per hour and it was moving to the northeast at 21 miles per hour. By early Thursday, Michael had been downgraded to a tropical storm.

The National Hurricane Center forecasted that a few areas could see up to a foot of rain.

"My God, it's scary. I didn't expect all this", said Bill Manning, 63, a grocery clerk who fled his camper van in Panama City for safer quarters in a hotel, only to see the electricity there go out.

The hurricane center's Graham said Michael represented a "textbook case" of a hurricane system growing stronger as it drew near shore, in contrast to Hurricane Florence, which struck North Carolina last month after weakening in a slow, halting approach.

Jeff Byard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's associate administrator for response and recovery, offered another explanation: People who survived previous storms without evacuating sometimes assume they'll be able to do so again.

A marina warehouse is damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina. It's very, very scary. Signs of cloud rotation were spotted on radar in an area that included several miles of Interstate 40, said the National Weather Service.

A quick look into the weekend shows that temperatures will likely remain in the 60s both Saturday and Sunday and we should be prepared for a shower on Saturday morning before a dry afternoon with conditions staying cool but dry again on Sunday.

In Georgia, an 11-year-old girl died when a vehicle port flipped into the air by a gust of wind landed on her home, Travis Brooks, head of the emergency relief agency in Seminole County, told AFP.

And its low pressure - the lower the pressure the more severe the storm - also set an October record of 919 millibars.

Florida officials said Michael, packing winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kph), was the most powerful storm to hit the southern U.S. state in more than a century.

Trump issued an emergency declaration for Florida, freeing up federal funds for relief operations and providing the assistance of FEMA, which has more than 3,000 people on the ground.

A man was killed by a tree that crashed into his home in Gadsden County, Florida on Wednesday, as Hurricane Michael plowed into Alabama and Georgia, leaving behind a path of destruction in the Panhandle.

While hurricanes usually drop quickly into tropical storm categories once they make landfall, Michael was expected to continue within the hurricane category far into Wednesday night.

An estimated 6,000 people evacuated to emergency shelters, mostly in Florida, and that number was expected to swell to 20,000 across five states by week's end, said Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross.


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