Hurricane Michael unleashed a furious onslaught on Florida’s Panhandle on Wednesday, killing two people and tearing apart buildings before taking aim at Georgia and the Carolinas.
Michael’s 155mph winds at landfall were only 5mph short of category 5 status, making it the strongest storm to strike the United States since Hurricane Andrew ravaged southern Florida in 1992.
Governor Rick Scott, whose record on the environment has been slammed by critics, warned that a tempest of this strength had not hit the area in more than a century. Outside experts noted that human-induced climate change is increasing the regularity and intensity of monster storms.
“Communities are going to see unimaginable devastation,” Scott had warned.
Two deaths have been reported as a result of the hurricane. A man in Gadsden county, Florida, was killed after a tree crashed through the roof of his home and a child in Seminole county, Georgia, was believed to have been killed after something fell on a home they were visiting. Authorities said details about the child’s death were still unclear because they had not been able to reach the home yet.
Speaking at a briefing this morning, Federal officials said it is too early to tell if enough people followed evacuation instructions. “Mexico Beach took the brunt,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long said. “That’s probably ground zero.”
Today, federal officials are focused on rescues and assessing the needs for clearing roads. “Today is a big day for us when it comes to helping people,” Long said.
However, “Power is not going to be on for a while,” Long said.