'Changed Forever': Florida Panhandle devastated by Michael - 10/11/2018 6:08:47 PM

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Part of the reason he made time to speak to Morning Edition, Gisbert said, was out of the hope that his contacts with the local power company might hear him and get a sense of what was going on.

The storm, which in less than two days grew from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, tore apart entire neighbourhoods in the Panhandle, reducing homes to naked concrete foundations or piles of wood and siding.

Reached peak intensity of 155 miles per hour just before landfall, making Michael the strongest hurricane to impact the Florida Panhandle in recorded history.

Under a perfectly clear blue sky, Florida families emerged tentatively from darkened shelters and hotels to an unfamiliar and perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

The agency is working with the Florida Department of Transportation to clear the interstate which is the major east-west route across northern Florida and the Panhandle.

Below are 15 images that personify the aftermath of the Category 4 storm, which blew ashore along the Panhandle packing 155 miles per hour winds. The first weather advisory about the storm went out on Saturday; days later, it became one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the US mainland.

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"Tropical storm wind gusts will continue across much of SC and central and eastern North Carolina, with sustained tropical storm force winds expected along the coast of the Carolinas", the agency said.

Few buildings are left standing Thursday after Hurricane Michael hit Mexico Beach, Florida, leaving a destructive path while continuing its rampage across the southeastern U.S.

Almost half of those affected were in Florida, which bore the brunt of Michael - the most powerful storm on record to hit the state's Panhandle.

The federal government declared a health emergency: mobilizing workers, cutting health insurance red tape, and building care options where hospital can't provide them.

320,000 people did not evacuate despite official orders and dire warnings as category-4 Hurricane Michael approached the Florida coast.

The town where the hurricane made landfall Wednesday remained very hard to reach by land a day later, with roads covered by fallen trees, power lines and other storm debris.

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"We have it very well covered in Florida", President Donald Trump said.

Meanwhile only three storms - Camille, the Labor Day hurricane and 1992's Hurricane Andrew (which hit South Florida and Louisiana) - roared ashore with higher winds than Michael.

By Friday morning the remnants of Michael had moved into the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Norfolk, Virginia, but still could bring up to 13cm of rain to parts of New England, the National Hurricane Center said. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around. He says the number of rescues remains fluid and there were no reports of deaths so far from the Coast Guard's missions. Stands of pine trees were flattened.

Megan McCall spoke to her brother Wednesday afternoon, and he said the weather was getting worse, she said. The damage at Bay Medical Sacred Heart included blown-out windows and a cracked exterior wall though no patients were hurt.

The state mental hospital in Chattahoochee, which has a section for the criminally insane, was cut off by land, and food and supplies were being flown in, authorities said. An 11-year-old girl in Georgia also died when Michael's winds picked up a carport and dropped it through the roof of her grandparents' home.

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