After Hurricane Michael, hard-hit communities begin picking up the pieces

Theresa Obrien
October 13, 2018

Hurricane Michael is poised to slam Florida's Panhandle by Wednesday afternoon, threatening unsafe storm surges to low-lying areas ill-equipped to handle them - and officials are urging people to get out of the way now.

The number of dead was expected to rise, but authorities scrapped plans for setting up a temporary morgue, indicating they had yet to see signs of mass casualties from the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental almost 50 years.

"The window of time to prepare is closing", said Florida Governor Rick Scott today.

Hurricane Michael strengthened to a Category 2 storm with 100-mile-per-hour winds on Tuesday as Florida's governor warned it could bring "total devastation" to parts of the southern U.S. state.

FEMA's Long said the storm posed a direct threat to people living on the coastlines who ignored warnings and evacuation orders, given the forecast severe winds and storm surge.

Some 120,000 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders in Bay County in the panhandle, a low-lying area of beachfront resorts and retirement communities.

While the diocesan website still urges prayer for the hurricane's victims, quoting two verses form Psalm 107, it is also encouraging people to donate much-needed items to those whose lives were upended by Michael.

Currently, Michael is moving into SC as a tropical storm.

Michael is expected to make landfall on Wednesday morning and pass through Florida by Thursday, hitting Georgia and the Carolinas as a tropical storm.

The storm's center and where it makes landfall with its destructive winds represent just one of several concerns.

With many roads impassable, Scott says food and water "are being airdropped into the hardest-hit communities, and law enforcement are escorting resources on the road".

The rainfall from Michael as it churned north triggered flash floods in parts of Virginia and the Carolinas, areas still reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence last month.

The Category 4 storm raged through the Florida Panhandle into Georgia Oct. 10 as the most powerful storm to hit the continental United States in decades, turning homes into piles of lumber and flooding subdivisions.

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"You will see damage to infrastructure". Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel were assessing the damage in the small seaside town on Friday.

"#HurricaneMichael isn't heading to any one town ...", the National Weather Service tweeted Monday. As it kept gaining strength, hurricane forecasters said, it "defies traditional logic". In 2015, research at Florida State University on how ocean temperatures affect hurricane intensity in the North Atlantic found that intensification increases by 16 percent for every 1.8 degree increase in average sea-surface temperatures.

Meanwhile, tropical storm warnings extend from Florida's Chassahowitzka River to the Mississippi-Alabama border. "A very unsafe storm surge will occur along the coast and well inland".

"This is a life-threatening situation".

Mexican authorities had closed schools and port activities in affected areas. He focused on islands off the coast whose bridges may close as the storm approaches. If you have been told to evacuate, leave. "And then you're riding it out in your vehicle instead of something else".

"We will rebuild. We will come back stronger than ever". "There is no infrastructure there to support you and quite honestly it's a risky area to go back into".

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

One of the hardest-hit spots in Florida is Mexico Beach, where Michael crashed ashore.

"We (first) bumped it up to Tuesday night ... and then we bumped it up to Tuesday morning", Cindy Guinn said.

Florida will give each of the impacted county 200 generators, so they can power their traffic lights, Scott said. "We're just now running out of regular (gasoline)", Danny Hess, an employee at a gas station in Panama City, told local WJHG television.

"Since 6:00 am it's been backed up".

The governor's declaration activates the state's emergency operations plan, according to Ivey's office.

The Internal Revenue Service says victims of Hurricane Michael will get a grace period before having to file some tax returns and payments.

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