Hurricane Michael kills 17 in USA, death toll expected to rise

Hurricane Michael kills 17 in USA, death toll expected to rise

Hurricane Michael kills 17 in USA, death toll expected to rise

On Friday, Hurricane Michael managed to take the total death toll up to at least 16.

For these hard-hit places, Michael - which came ashore as a Category 4 storm with 155 miles per hour winds that made it one of the strongest to make landfall in the Gulf in a century - will leave a long-lasting mark.

"It is a monstrous storm and the forecast (keeps) getting more unsafe", Florida Governor Rick Scott said.

By Wednesday night and Thursday, heavy rains from Michael are likely to streak into the Carolinas, perhaps bringing more flooding to some of the same areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

"Luckily we did not get a surge", Mr. Tenbrunson said of his home.

The concern was for people who ignored evacuation orders ahead of the storm - which grew with surprising speed from a tropical storm into an extremely powerful hurricane in less than two days - and who stayed put in communities that were demolished by Michael's assault on Wednesday.

The center added an ominous note, saying, "Strengthening is expected, and Michael is forecast to be a major hurricane at landfall in Florida". Tropical storm warnings cover a further 3.1 million people in the three states. A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye of Michael off the west tip of Cuba late Monday found wind speeds were rising even as forecasters warned the storm would reach major (Category 3) hurricane status with winds topping 111 miles per hour. "That means the water will come miles in shore and could easily be over the roofs of houses", Scott said.

Florida emergency officials say they have rescued almost 200 people and checked 25,000 structures since Hurricane Michael battered the state this week.

A bridge damaged by Hurricane Michael can be seen Friday in Mexico Beach, Fla.

Brock Long, an administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the number of deaths was expected to rise as rescue teams combed through Mexico Beach, Port St Joe and Panama City. "There are warnings for more than 300 miles of coastline".

Environmental conditions are favorable for further strengthening until landfall, the Hurricane Center said.

On the Florida Panhandle, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan bluntly advised residents who choose to ride out the storm that first responders won't be able to reach them during or immediately after Michael smashes into the coast. Michael is poised to push ashore a "life-threatening" surge of ocean water that will inundate those coastal areas.

Virginia authorities said they had confirmed five deaths there and had one person still missing Friday.

Some of the population centers that could witness some of the most severe hurricane effects include Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City Beach and Apalachicola. He focused on islands off the coast whose bridges may close as the storm approaches. "And then you're riding it out in your auto instead of something else". "If we're going to rebuild, do it right". He declared a state of emergency for 35 Florida counties from the Panhandle to Tampa Bay, activated hundreds of Florida National Guard members and waived tolls to encourage those near the coast to evacuate inland. "We are working very hard on every area and every state that was hit - and we are with you!"

The hurricane forced Benny and Cindy Guinn to get married a day earlier.

Roy Cooper said two people - a man and a woman - were killed in McDowell County when their vehicle hit a large tree that had fallen on the road. She worked all night stocking shelves at a big-box store that was closing later Tuesday, then got to work securing her yard.

In a briefing at the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee on Friday evening, authorities said they had wrapped up their initial rapid searches and had begun more-intense searches including inspecting collapsed buildings. Many filled sandbags and boarded up homes.

Cars there were in long lines at one of the town's gas stations Tuesday.

"Since 6:00 am it's been backed up. We're just now running out of regular (gas)", worker Danny Hess told CNN affiliate WJHG.

"Guess what? That's today", National Hurricane Centre director Ken Graham said. "Residents and businesses in coastal Alabama must be vigilant and closely monitor the storm's path and be prepared for a major hurricane".

Michael lashed western Cuba Monday with heavy rains and strong winds. Up to 12 inches could fall there, threatening flash floods and mudslides, the hurricane center said Tuesday.

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