'Unimaginable destruction': Hurricane Michael smashes rows of houses

12 October, 2018, 08:56 | Author: Tara Reeves
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Tamiya Waldon looks out at the damage to her neighbourhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., on Wednesday.

Horrific before and after photos have captured the utter devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael after it crashed into several small towns on the Florida Panhandle with near-record force.

He and his partner Cheri Papineau, 50, pushed on their door for an hour to stop the storm surge bursting in as their four dogs sat on top of a bed floating in their home. The governor pleaded with people in the hard-hit areas to stay away for now.

"I know you just want to go home".

"So many lives have been changed forever".

Last week it was confirmed that it had spread for the first time to the Atlantic coast, forcing beaches in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties to close.

Other experts share Brand's concerns of an inland outbreak of red tide-related illness in the Panhandle, but agree the effects would be short-lived.

Eight ships from Tampa, Miami and Galveston in Texas had to be re-routed from the path of Michael, but all three ports are operating normally again and each of Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line say passengers for the next cruises will not be affected.

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More than 900,000 homes and businesses are still without power in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Michael killed at least six people - including a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said.

Communications outages and roads blocked by downed trees, strewn power lines and debris made it hard to get an overall assessment of the damage wrought by Michael, but the initial picture was grim.

Although most homes were still standing, no property was left undamaged and downed power lines lay almost everywhere.

"There are so many downed power lines and trees that it's nearly impossible to get through the city", Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson said. Aluminium siding was shredded to ribbons. Hundreds of cars had broken windows, many turned askew by the wind.

The US Army said more than 2,000 Florida National Guard soldiers were working on the recovery operations.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to evacuate as Michael closed in. But it moved fast and intensified quickly, and emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings.

Hurricane Michael is the strongest storm to make landfall in the continental United States in nearly half a century, and the strongest hurricane ever to hit in October.

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