Thousands of people reported missing after Hurricane Michael; death toll at 17

Submitted by Sharon to WCTV  Tallahassee Florida

Submitted by Sharon to WCTV Tallahassee Florida

Authorities said a falling tree killed a man outside Tallahassee, Florida, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia was killed when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home.

Michael ploughed into Florida's Panhandle coast near the town of Mexico Beach at 14:00 (18:00 GMT) on Wednesday, one of the strongest storms to ever hit the United States mainland.

But Florida Gov. Rick Scott said officials still "do not know enough" about the fate of those who did not evacuate. The Sheriff's Office in Gadsden County, Fla., said on Thursday that the storm had killed four people there. "It was scary, but it could have been a lot worse".

The hurricane-force winds were so powerful that they lifted the roof on the hospital's tower where most of the patients were, and water poured into the facility. Numerous buildings, particularly the shelters, were built to withstand that type of punishment and people received enough warning to plan ahead, stock up provisions and seek the safest location possible.

The Houston-based volunteer search-and-rescue network CrowdSource Rescue said its teams were trying to find some 2,500 people who were either reported missing or were stranded and in need of help in Florida, co-founder Matthew Marchetti said.

Entire blocks of homes near the beach were obliterated, reduced to nothing but concrete slabs in the sand.

Florida officials said more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Florida and Governor Scott said almost 20,000 utility workers had been deployed to restore power. "If you're out of town, you've seen more images and video than we have", said Tyler Allender, a WECP meteorologist and reporter, in the video as the crew drove by a church with the roof damage. "You want to check on things and begin the recovery process", Scott said. That's why we talk about: Make sure you know how to use generator.

The storm is now the most powerful hurricane on record to strike the Florida Panhandle. "We're starting from scratch, all of us", Plushnik said. While forecasting a storm's path requires broad information on large-scale factors around a storm, such as winds and air pressure, forecasts of intensity require detailed, specific data from the most violent part of a hurricane's interior, not the easiest place to do science.

"We don't have a building - from my understanding the water surge moved it off its foundation", Mexico Beach Police Chief Anthony Kelly told ABC News Friday.

Mr. Baine said Dominion expected to restore power to the "vast majority" of its customers by late Monday.

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Ahead of Michael among USA hurricanes were the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, which left 485 dead; Hurricane Camille, which killed 259 people in 1969, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which resulted in 65 deaths, and. "Literally overnight it went from a Category 1 or 2 to a Category 4, nearly borderline 5".

Hurricane Michael came as a surprise to some.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in.

The National Hurricane Center defines rapid intensification as a gain of at least 30 knots - or about 35 mph - in wind speed over a 24-hour period.

"This was a success for modern technology", said Roger A. Pielke Sr., University of Colorado Boulder meteorologist. "Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life". "So I followed the mandatory evacuation order and left with my wife".

Residents like Scott Boutwell are in shock. "We are still getting down there", the governor added.

Meteorologist Bill Steffen described the casualty rate in the aftermath of such a massive storm as a credit to all involved.

Michael's strength may reflect the effect of climate change on storms. "NWS/NASA efforts here well worth the taxes paid to support this effort".

"We're looking at widespread moderate to locally major river flooding to once again resurface over North Carolina likely beginning today, continuing for the next several days", Mr. Widelski said. Michael's outer bands still could drop up to 3 inches of rain from New Jersey to Long Island to Cape Cod, and up to 5 inches over the MA islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard through Friday afternoon, forecasters said.

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