After Michael's rampage on Florida Panhandle: 'Nothing Left'

Famous for staying open during natural disasters Waffle House closes 21 restaurants

Famous for staying open during natural disasters Waffle House closes 21 restaurants

The death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to 11 on Friday, as more than 1.5 million people in six states remain without electricity.

Hurricane Michael made landfall on Wednesday afternoon as a category four storm with 155mph (250km/h) winds.

Virginia officials said that Michael, classified as a tropical storm by the time it plowed through the state, had killed five people there.

Much of downtown Port St. Joe, 19 kilometres east of Mexico Beach, was flooded after Michael snapped boats in two and hurled a large ship onto the shore, residents said. When their house filled with surging ocean water, they fled upstairs. They're surrounded now by devastation: fishing boats and cars tossed like toys, empty slabs where people hopefully escaped before houses exploded in 155 miles per hour (249 kph) winds and were washed away by the storm surge.

Michael barrelled across the southern US on Wednesday (Oct. 10), beginning the day as a Category 4 hurricane and rapidly losing wind strength as it traveled.

"All of my furniture was floating", said Marquardt, 67. "'A river just started coming down the road. It was very bad, and now there's just nothing left".

All told, more than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power.

- The images were already jaw-dropping, but the extent of Hurricane Michael's impact to the Florida Panhandle is becoming more detailed now that the federal government is publishing aerial photos taken during recent survey flights. A neighbor told McCall that all the docks in the area were destroyed and many people are stuck in their homes as the roads have been blocked with debris. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Aluminum siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows. No patients were hurt, the hospital said.

The imagery shows the near total destruction of Mexico Beach and heavy damage to nearby Tyndall Air Force Base. The elementary school, the flight line, the marina, the runways - all were devastated.

"I think you're going to see it climb", FEMA Administrator Brock Long said.

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He said the state "saw some powerful rushing waters yesterday", adding that first responders rescued almost 100 people and evacuated many more affected by flash flooding. Numerous 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated ahead of the storm.

An insurance company that produces models for catastrophes estimated Michael caused about $8 billion in damage. It doesn't include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Michael Williams, 70, looks for help from passing motorists for food and water as downed trees prevent him from driving out of his damaged home in the aftermath of hurricane Michael with his family in Springfield, Fla., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.

The storm hit the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia hard, taking the lives of at least two people.

She was later identified as 11-year-old Sarah Radney, a girl who "loved God" and loved life, her father, Roy Radney said.

Michael then blew through Virginia, where authorities said five people were killed. Four of them drowned, including James King of Dry Fork, Virginia. It adds that Hanover County firefighter Lt. Brad Clark was killed and several others were injured when a tractor trailer rear-ended a fire truck that was stopped at a crash site.

At least two deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental United States in over 50 years, and it wasn't done yet: Though weakened into a tropical storm, it continued to bring heavy rain and blustery winds to the Southeast as it pushed inland, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

On Friday, Cooper said the storm "left behind a long track of damage".

The intense power of Michael caught many people off guard. But emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings. The task ahead: finding and hopefully safely accounting for all those who stayed behind. National Guard troops found 20 survivors initially Wednesday night, and more rescue crews are arriving. But the fate of many residents was unknown.

Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for a friend's elderly mother who thought she would be OK in her small cinderblock house just 150 yards (meters) from the Gulf.

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