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Hurricane Michael's death toll could rise as Florida searches intensify

12 October 2018

This season, however, the few sessions gleaned from ramped-up tropical activity have been found to be more superfluous than before, as nearly-Cat 5 Hurricane Michael-the second significant and potentially devastating storm to impact the right coast-made landfall on Wednesday near Panama City on Florida's Gulf Coast, bringing with it 155-mph-plus winds and torrential rains, after just a short window of quality surf. Brandon Clement shot helicopter footage of the devastation left by the Category 4 storm on October 11.

Homes washed away by Hurricane Michael were shown in this aerial photo, today, in Mexico Beach, Fla. Four of the people drowned, and a firefighter was killed when his truck was struck by a tractor-trailer as he responded to an accident in heavy storm conditions, the Associated Press reported.

Panama City after Michael.

About 1.5 million homes and businesses were without power from Florida to Virginia early on Friday, according to utility companies.

At least 3: The number of confirmed deaths as of Thursday.

After daylight Thursday, Florida residents took stock of the epic scale of the disaster.

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard.

Authorities said at least one person has died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home.

"We had houses that were on one side of the street and now they're on the other", said Mayor Bo Patterson, estimating that 1,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed in his town of 3,500 people.

Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm and is moving toward the Carolinas, an area already hit hard this year by Hurricane Florence. The state medical examiner's office has ruled Clark's death among five storm-related fatalities in the state.

Michael is expected to drop 4 to 7 inches of rain from eastern Georgia to the southern Mid-Atlantic and up to 9 inches of rain in isolated parts of North Carolina and Virginia, the National Hurricane Center said.

State officials issued disaster declarations in Alabama and Georgia and the storm is also expected to bring heavy rainfall to North and SC.

Some fear the toll can only rise as rescue teams get around storm debris blocking roads and reach isolated areas. This carport was blown into a home killing an 11-year-old girl.

"I told my wife, Judy, 'Come on out, you want to see what a tornado looks like?'"

A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Anglie Hightower said. The lead-gray water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes.

Now, rescuers and residents are struggling to get into the ground-zero town to assess the damage and search for the hundreds of people believed to have stayed behind.

Numerous buildings in Panama City were demolished or left without roofs amid deserted streets littered with debris, twisted, fallen tree trunks and dangling wires.

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires. An eight-foot storm surge inundated neighborhoods, covering some homes to the rooftop.

Michael also disrupted energy operations in the US Gulf of Mexico as it approached land, cutting crude oil production by more than 40% and natural gas output by almost one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated.

Hurricane Michael's death toll could rise as Florida searches intensify