Images trickle out of Michael's vast devastation

Images trickle out of Michael's vast devastation

The hurricane came ashore on Wednesday with winds of 155mph, at Mexico Beach, a small town with a population of 1,200, which suffered the brunt of the devastation. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm.

What the 9-foot storm surge didn't destroy, the 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds finished off.

"Panama City is a vibrant seaside city".

"You can't drive a vehicle anywhere, you can't do anything because it's littered with houses, pieces of houses", said Patricia Mulligan, who rode out the storm with her family in a condo in Mexico Beach, a town of mom-and-pop shops and sport-fishing businesses about 56km southeast of Panama City. "It's obliterated ... it's terrible to look at". But after the storm passed, she emerged to check on the cafe she manages and discovered a scene of breathtaking destruction. "I've never seen anything like this".

More than a third of the population of Mexico Beach is 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census, and almost half of the housing is for seasonal or recreational use. However, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that winds picked up at certain points along the Georgia and SC coast.

Trees were also flatted by the storm.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward from Michael's center of circulation for 45 miles.

Meteorologists use central pressure readings to gauge a hurricane's strength - the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.

Friday, according to Austin, is going to be a dry day, mostly sunny with highs in upper 70s and winds northwest around 10 miles per hour.

The hurricane Michael, which has already started to collect the bloody tribute, called the most powerful hurricane after the "Andrew" that struck the continental United States in 1992.

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The smell of natural gas permeated the predawn air amid piles of debris and destroyed homes near ground zero.

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

The storm was on track to make an expected exit into the Atlantic Ocean by Friday morning, with some parts of Virginia and North Carolina expected to see as much as nine inches of rain, bringing the likelihood for risky flooding.

Michael isn't alone. The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Leslie and Tropical Storm Nadine are no threat to land over the open Atlantic Ocean, but Tropical Storm Sergio in the Pacific is blowing toward the Baja California Peninsula on a path across Mexico to the southern U.S. Plains and the Ozarks by the weekend. It also set off transformer explosions and knocked out power to more than 388,000 homes and businesses.

"This morning, Florida's Gulf Coast and Panhandle and the Big Bend are waking up to unimaginable destruction", Gov. Rick Scott told The Associated Press. He added: "So many lives have been changed forever".

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

In North Carolina, still struggling to recover after Florence, up to 6 inches of rain had fallen in the mountains by morning, and people had to be rescued from cars trapped in high water.

"I know it's going to cover everything around here", Sadousky said Tuesday, eyeing water lapping at the edge of a canal behind his home.

"If you and your family made it through the storm safely, the worst thing you could do now is act foolishly", he said. "We're working diligently to get to everyone as quickly as we can".

Describing his experience with the storm, Mr Johnson said: "I went to bed and I was (awoken) by the announcement over our PA system at about 8.30am saying the storm had shifted and we were no longer on lockdown".

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