Two, including a child, killed in Hurricane Michael; Florida witnesses 'worst' storm

Two, including a child, killed in Hurricane Michael; Florida witnesses 'worst' storm

On a full-throttle journey from the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said Michael will bring "life-threatening" storm surge, hurricane-force winds and torrential rainfall after developing from a seemingly minor tropical storm off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula several days ago. Uprooted trees. Piles of rubble and debris everywhere. More than 80 deaths were linked to that storm, according to The Associated Press - including residents of a nursing home.

Michael crashed ashore on Wednesday near the small town of Mexico Beach as the third most powerful hurricane ever to strike the USA mainland, carrying winds of up to 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour) and causing deep seawater flooding. "As Hurricane Michael nears landfall, we are working with state and local officials in Florida to take all necessary precautions", Trump said Monday.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people, mostly from homes damaged along the Florida coastline, and searched for more victims.

- Power outages: More than 932,000 customers in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and SC without power. Where homes once stood, offering premium views of the Gulf of Mexico, a few boards lay scattered across foundations. Bay Medical Sacred Heart was moving about 200 patients from buildings with blown-out windows, a cracked exterior wall and a collapsed roof.

After being battered for almost three hours by strong winds and heavy rains, roads in Panama City were virtually impassable and trees, satellite dishes and traffic lights lay in the streets.

A Mexico Beach resident who rode out the hurricane described the impact of the storm surge to CNN.

Rick Scott said a "massive" effort was underway to clear roads that had been blocked by fallen trees, branches and power lines, hampering the ground response as aerial and water rescue crews made contact with hard-to-reach areas devastated by the storm. Houses were cracked open to reveal sodden furniture and wrecked belongings. The surge had brought stuff in. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said. "All the stores, all the restaurants, everything - there's nothing left here anymore".

"It's hard to grasp", he said.

"This was never in our imagination", he said.

In Panama City, about 20 miles northwest of Mexico Beach, the power went out at Country Inn Suites.

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A storage facility in Panama City Beach housing hundreds of boats was ripped apart by the strong winds with the roof shredding into strips of twisted metal.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned of possible flash flooding Thursday in parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia because of heavy rains from Michael.

USA president Donald Trump approved a federal pre-landfall emergency declaration authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to "coordinate all disaster relief efforts" and to "identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency".

Scott said he talked to Trump early Thursday.

"We're going through county by county to make sure we have all the shelters we need".

"This is a nightmare hurricane for the Big Bend", said Ryan Truchelut, chief meteorologist at WeatherTiger.

"It's tremendous destruction", he added.

Forecasters have warned Hurricane Michael will increase to a major Category 3 storm, with sustained winds topping 125mph over the next 24 hours.

As it came ashore, Michael was just shy of a Category 5 - defined as a storm packing wind speeds of 157 miles per hour or above.

A year ago saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

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