Hurricane Michael leads to unimaginable destruction: 17 chilling photos

James Marshall
October 12, 2018

There will be no shelters open in Wakulla County, the sheriff's office warned on Facebook, because they are rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour (178 kph). The storm is now making its way through the Carolinas.

Under a perfectly clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged tentatively yesterday from darkened shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centres, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

Damage from Hurricane Michael is seen in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

Storm surge is also inundating some areas along the Panhandle.

Now ranked as a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a Category 3, becoming the second major hurricane in the Atlantic basin this year following Florence last month, forecasters said. Graham said storm surge will inundate the Aucilla River there to a point where it will "flow backward". The warning is issued just prior to when the strongest winds of the eyewall are expected to impact an area.

After being battered for almost three hours by strong winds and heavy rains, roads in Panama City were virtually impassable and trees, satellite dishes and traffic lights lay in the streets. The wind howled and rainwater leaked through the ceiling.

Betty Wexler, 86, lost a beach house to a storm more than 20 years ago.

Perry and Mollie Williams were riding out the storm in their "fortress" home a block from the beach, their three cats and Rottweiler in tow.

"We've been through this before", said Sally Crown, who planned to hunker down with her two dogs in the dangerously exposed coastal town of Apalachicola, population 2,500.

"Those who stick around to witness storm surge don't typically live to talk about it", he said.

Because of the low-lying land, many people living inland could see their homes flooded, too.

Gov. Rick Scott said the Panhandle woke up to "unimaginable destruction".

Lines at gasoline stations were growing long in Panama City as people prepared to leave areas under mandatory evacuation, Trepanier said. "Multiple state and federal resources are staged and ready to respond as soon as it is safe". Another 3,500 National Guard members were also ready to deploy, he said.

NASA released stunning views of Hurricane Michael from space, as the storm continues its trek toward the Florida panhandle.

Tallahassee, a city of 200,000, sits 100 miles east of Panama City.

When winds reach 119km/h (74mph), it is known as a hurricane - in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific - or a typhoon in the Western Pacific. Gale Berry, 59, said their neighborhood was littered with debris and downed trees after Hurricane Hermine, which made landfall in 2016 as a Category 1 storm.

Florida's governor mobilized National Guard troops and thousands of Gulf Coast residents were ordered evacuated on Monday, two days before Hurricane Michael was forecast to slam ashore with life-threatening waves, winds and rains.

Hurricane Michael's assault on the Florida Panhandle left nothing more than empty foundations and heaps of rubble in some parts of the small towns it crashed into with near-record force.

The storm is expected to unleash coastal storm surges of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) along Florida's Panhandle and dump as much as a foot (30 cm) of rain across Florida, Georgia and SC, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

Forecasters say that 4 to 8 inches of rain is expected along the path of the storm, and 12 inches could fall in some parts of the Panhandle.

Bacon and Rice reported from Mclean, Va.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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