Northern Florida Hit Hard By Powerful Hurricane Michael

Northern Florida Hit Hard By Powerful Hurricane Michael

Some of the worst damage was in Mexico Beach, where the hurricane crashed ashore Wednesday as a Category 4 monster with 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds and a storm surge of 9 feet (2.7 meters).

Roofs were peeled away and sent airborne.

Melinda Reynolds was among Lake City residents who prepared for the worst, but hoped for the best. "This is obviously the worst", said Stephanie Palmer, a FEMA firefighter and rescuer from Coral Springs, Florida.

It was not yet known what had happened to about 280 residents of Mexico Beach who authorities said had ignored evacuation orders as the storm approached the state's northwest. Patterson estimated 1,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed in his town of 3,500 people.

"As Hurricane Michael continues its destructive path through the Panhandle and leaves our state, we're turning 100 percent of our effort on search and rescue and recovery", Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a press conference. "This was my sixth (hurricane), so I thought I was prepared".

Florida is also still shaking off the effects of Hurricane Irma in some places, with several resorts in the Florida Keys only just open again nearly a year after the Category 3 storm ripped through the area in September 2017.

"I have had employees going to the communities where our kids live, going door to door and checking", said Principal Britt Smith by phone. "So far, everybody seems to be very safe".

In terms of pressure, The Washington Post reported that Michael is the third-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States, even ranking above Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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The NHC expects weakening today while the centre of the storm is over land.

Heavy rains dumping up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) in some areas were making flooding a serious threat.

Travis Brooks, director of Seminole County's emergency management agency, told ABC News there was "complete and total devastation". Early on Friday, the center of the storm was set to drift past Virginia Beach back into the Atlantic Ocean, he said. In North Carolina's mountains, motorists had to be rescued from cars trapped by high water.

Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, about 20 miles southeast of Panama City in Florida's Panhandle region on Wednesday afternoon.

More than 780,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday in the wake of the storm.

"We just need people to be patient", Castor said.

Watch videos, courtesy CNN, of Michael's damage.

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