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Hurricane Michael: Where the storm is now, what we know about damage  8 Months ago

Source:   USA Today  

One of the most powerful hurricanes in American history has moved off land, leaving a trail of destruction.

Michael made landfall Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane with 155-mph winds. When measured by its barometric pressure, Michael was the third-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the USA. High winds, rains and flash flooding were felt across multiple states, as far north as Virginia.

In just two days, it claimed victims, shredded buildings, toppled power lines and destroyed communities. 

“So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said, calling it “unimaginable destruction.”

Now, cities are assessing damages and beginning to clean up debris. Here's what we know Friday:

Michael moved off the East Coast early Friday morning and into the Atlantic Ocean as a post-tropical storm.

Nearly 1.1 million customers across five states were without power at 5:30 p.m. EDT Friday, according to PowerOutage.US.

In Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around. Aluminum siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees. Hundreds of cars had broken windows. The hurricane damaged 4 hospitals and 11 nursing homes in Florida, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients. All hospitals and nursing homes remained open in Georgia. 

An insurance company that produces models for catastrophes estimated Michael caused about $8 billion in damage. Boston-based Karen Clark & Company released that estimate Thursday, which includes privately insured wind and storm surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties and vehicles. It doesn’t include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Officials warned Friday that it is not safe yet for residents of Bay County, Florida and Mexico Beach, Florida to return home. 

“Anybody who evacuated Mexico Beach who is in a shelter, it’s going to be a long time before they’re actually able to go back and return to those places because it was heavily damaged,” FEMA Director Brock Long told reporters Friday. 

Tyndall Air Force Base sustained significant damage, and Col. Brian Laidlaw told the 3,600 men and women stationed on the base not to come back. 

Fourteen people have been reported killed from the storm across five states. 

Steve Sweet, 44, was killed in Gadsden County, Florida, near the state border with Georgia, when a tree fell into his home. Authorities announced four total fatalities in Gadsden County Thursday. 

Sarah Radney, 11, who was visiting her grandparents in Seminole County, Georgia, was killed when a portable carport broke through the house and struck her in the head. Georgia authorities confirmed there was one other death in the state. 

The Hanover County Fire-EMS Department says Fire Lt. Brad Clark died responding to a crash north of Richmond, Virginia, as Michael lashed the state. Four other victims in Virginia died by drowning, according to the Department of Emergency Management. 

A driver in Iredell County, North Carolina was killed Thursday when a tree fell on his car. A man and a woman also died in McDowell County, North Carolina when their car crashed into a fallen tree.

Not all victims have been named.

The U.S. Coast Guard had rescued about 129 people and one animal as of 2 p.m. Friday and assisted 232 others, including 142 nursing home patients, according to a statement. Response teams were also working to remove roadway debris to clear paths for emergency services. The Red Cross sent 1,000 trained disaster personnel to help victims of the storm, with 48 mobile feeding units that can each provide 1,500 meals a day. 

The recovery in Florida will take time – especially in Mexico Beach, where Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon.

On Twitter, Sen. Marco Rubio described the scene in Mexico Beach as “total devastation” and said drone images produced “audible gasps” at one emergency operations center.

Michael was just the fourth major hurricane – Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale – to crash ashore on the Florida Panhandle since 1950, joining Eloise (1975), Opal (1995) and Dennis (2005). It will have its name "retired" by the World Meteorological Organization next year. 

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