Along the 200-mile Panhandle, Michael washed away white-sand beaches, hammered military bases and destroyed coastal communities, stripping trees to stalks, shredding roofs, toppling trucks and pushing boats into buildings. Hundreds of cars had broken windows. One of the hardest-hit spots was Mexico Beach, where Michael crashed ashore Wednesday as a Category 4 monster with 155 mph (250 kph) winds. Weakened into a tropical storm, it continued to bring heavy rain and blustery winds to the Southeast. More than 340,952 customers were without power in Florida and more than 343,596 in Georgia.
Damage in Florida
A vast search-and-rescue operation took shape across the Florida Panhandle on Thursday, one day after Hurricane Michael’s bombardment left homes splintered to their foundations, roads and water systems compromised The governor pleaded with people in Florida not to go home yet. “I’m very concerned about our citizens that didn’t evacuate and I just hope that, you know, we don’t have much loss of life,” he said. The Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people, mostly from homes damaged along the Florida coastline. Officials worry Hurricane Michel death toll could rise.The storm was expected to move across North Carolina and Virginia and push into the Atlantic Ocean by late Thursday or early Friday.