WBRC FOX6 News Partners with Birmingham Salvation Army to host Hurricane Michael Relief Drive

WBRC FOX6 News Partners with Birmingham Salvation Army to host Hurricane Michael Relief Drive
Hurricane Michael Updates: Search and Rescue Begins Amid Ruins of Florida Coast
Tropical Storm Michael is accelerating through Virginia with gusty winds and flooding rain. Extreme rainfall totals may occur in either of those states through early Friday as Michael swings out into the Atlantic. 

Michael made landfall as a catastrophic, unprecedented Florida Panhandle Category 4 hurricane early during the afternoon of Oct. 10. 

Four people were killed in Florida's Gadsden County, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower. One of them was Steve Sweet, 44, who died when a tree slammed into his Gretna home. Details were not available on the other three deaths. In southern Georgia, an 11-year-old girl was killed when a carport hit her home in Seminole County. The county coroner later identified her as Sarah Radney. A North Carolina man was killed Thursday after a tree fell on his car in Iredell County, north of Charlotte, the Associated Press reported.

Hurricane Michael intensified right up to its landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, around 12:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday as a high-end Category 4 with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and a minimum central pressure of 919 millibars.

Video: Hurricane Michael becomes Category 1 storm as it heads toward Georgia

Michael was the third most intense continental U.S. landfall by pressure and fourth strongest by maximum sustained winds on record. Michael was also the most intense Florida Panhandle landfall on record, the first Category 4 hurricane to do so in records dating to the mid-19th century.

Numerous tornadoes reported: The National Weather Service said it had confirmed three tornadoes were spawned by Michael. An EF-0 tornado touched down a couple of miles southwest of Atlanta and snapped several large trees. A high-end EF-1 tornado touched down in Crawford County. Numerous trees were knocked down or uprooted. Several homes were damaged by falling trees, NWS said. Damage was also found in Peach County that was thought to be caused by a brief tornado, but NWS said it wants to re-examine radar data to confirm it.

WHATS HAPPENING: Carolinas next in line for Michaels fury | WSOC-TV

The National Hurricane Center's Storm Surge Unit, estimated peak storm surge inundation of 9 to 14 feet above ground likely occurred from Mexico Beach through Apalachee Bay, a location notorious for storm surge even from less intense tropical cyclones. 

Flooded roads and water rescues: Numerous roads were closed and water rescues need as rain from Michael flooded southwest and central Virginia on Thursday, the National Weather Service reported, including Roanoke, Danville and southern Pittsylvania County, and Henry County. Hundreds of trees were down in Henry County, too. Reports said several had fallen on homes with people trapped inside. In Hanover County, emergency officials rescued a person after a tree fell on a house. Water rescues were also needed in Richmond. 

Michael's storm surge produced a peak inundation of 7.72 feet above ground level at Apalachicola, Florida, Wednesday afternoon, smashing the previous record of 6.43 feet above ground set during Hurricane Dennis in July 2005. 

Trees downed across capital city: In Tallahassee, the power loss from Michael surpassed the loss from Hermine over two years ago, according to Mayor Andrew Gillum. He said about 110,000 homes and businesses were without power in the city Thursday morning and that one of the city's sewer systems failed. He urged patience and optimism from residents as the city works through its recovery. "I'm counting our many, many blessings. This storm for us certainly was not as bad for us as it could have been."

Peak inundation of 5.31 feet above ground at Panama City, Florida, was second only to Hurricane Opal in 1995. Cedar Key, Florida, saw peak inundation of just over 4 feet Wednesday afternoon.

Michael made landfall as a high-end Category 4 storm on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday smashing towns to rubble. On Thursday, the Carolinas and Georgia saw trees knocked down, hundreds of thousands without power, and roads closed by standing water. Evacuations were needed in Irmo, South Carolina, after multiple homes took on water. Tropical Storm Michael's downpours in Virginia also flooded homes and led to water rescues and at least four flash flood emergencies later in the day. One tornado was confirmed. 

Video: Florida families “devastated” by damage left by Hurricane Michael

An observing site near Tyndall Air Force Base, east of Panama City, measured a wind gust to 129 mph early Wednesday afternoon, and a gust to 107 mph was reported 1 mile south of Panama City.

Major damage reported at Tyndall Air Force Base: The base, which sits across the bay from Panama City, posted on its Facebook page Thursday that the base had widespread catastrophic damage. The post also said there was roof damage to nearly every house on the base. No injuries were reported. A wind gust of 129 mph was measured at the base. Base personnel had been ordered to evacuate on Monday. The Facebook post said evacuees should plan on being away for an extended time.

At one time, it was estimated over 200 roads in the city of Tallahassee were blocked by fallen trees.

Tornado warnings: More than a half dozen tornado warnings were issued Thursday evening for parts of southwestern and central Virginia. The Richmond Times-Dispatch said the National Weather Service reported that a tree fell through a house in Williamsburg as a result of a possible tornado. A roof was blown off a structure in James City County. Earlier, the NWS said radar had confirmed a tornado near Scott's Fork in southern Amelia County.

Drone footage shows Hurricane Michael ravaged Florida town where it made landfall

A weather reporting station deployed by Weatherflow and the University of Florida measured a surface pressure from 920-929 millibars, an extraordinarily low pressure to measure on U.S. soil, before it was toppled, according to Shea Gibson, WeatherFlow, Inc. meteorologist.

Michael also shattered Panama City's all-time low pressure record, which had stood from Hurricane Kate in 1985. 

Psychiatric hospital cut off: In the town of Chattahoochee, the Florida State Hospital, which is the state's largest and oldest psychiatric hospital, was inaccessible in the wake of Michael, according to the Miami Herald. The facility's 975 residents and 325 staffers had ample supplies, especially after food and water drops via helicopter, but the hospital lost all communication with the outside world, the report added.

Photos: PHOTOS: Hurricane Michaels destruction in Northwest Florida – The Times

– Florida: 129 mph at Tyndall AFB; 89 mph in Apalachicola; 71 mph in Tallahassee- Alabama: 68 mph in Dothan- Georgia: 115 mph in Donalsonville; 70 mph in Albany- South Carolina: 55 mph in Myrtle Beach; 52 mph near Charleston

Video: Hurricane Michael: Heavy Rain And Winds Devastate Florida | TODAY

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Winds gusted to 50-55 mph, at times, in Augusta, Georgia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Thursday morning. There have been a number of reports of trees and power lines downed in eastern Georgia and South Carolina, including in the Columbia metro area.

Man gets emotional talking about riding out 9-12 feet storm surge with mom

Rainfall from Michael has now topped 6 inches in a few locations, but has been held down somewhat, primarily due to Michael's more rapid forward movement compared to Florence. Here are some notable rainfall totals by state:

– Florida: 5.26 inches at Sumatra; 3.17 inches in Tallahassee; 2.61 inches in Panama City- Alabama: 5.54 inches in Ozark; 4.92 inches in Dothan; 1.60 inches in Montgomery- Georgia: 6.48 inches near Powder Springs; 3.37 inches in Macon- South Carolina: 6.01 inches near Hartsville; 4.47 inches in Columbia- North Carolina: 9.62 inches near Black Mountain; 6.75 inches near Boone; 2.95 inches in Asheville- Virginia: 5.75 inches near White Gate; 1.40 inches in Blacksburg

Devastation in Mexico Beach: Images from Mexico Beach showed widespread devastation with homes reduced to kindling and roofs lying in the middle of U.S. 98. Storm surge lapped at roof eaves. Mayor Al Cathey, 71, told the Tampa Bay Times, "Were broken here. This devastation is beyond. I think its sort of obvious we need some help."

Apocalyptic: One Florida town demolished by Michael

Flooding was also reported on Interstate 26 and the Interstate 126 interchange on the northwest side of Columbia early Thursday morning. Ten homes were flooded in Irmo, South Carolina, requiring some evacuations.

Agriculture decimated: With the harvest underway, many farms in South Georgia had their crops ravaged by the storm. "Our worst dreams are being realized," Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black told reporters Thursday morning. Black said 84 chicken houses, estimated to have held more than 2 million chickens, were destroyed.  

Part of I-10 closed in Florida after Hurricane Michael

In North Carolina, a swift water rescue was needed due to flooding near Old Fort, and significant street flooding was reported in Hendersonville and Boone.

Apalachicola suffers heavy damage: Sally Crown, who rode out the storm in her house, ventured out after the storm had passed. "It's absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic," she said. "There's flooding. Boats on the highway. A house on the highway. Houses that have been there forever are just shattered."

Michael first developed as Tropical Depression Fourteen on Oct. 7 east of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Michael rapidly intensified from a tropical depression to Category 1 hurricane in just 24 hours ending 11 a.m. EDT Oct. 8.

Michael continued to intensify right up to landfall, exhibiting eyewall lightning as it pushed to high-end Category 4 status slamming ashore in the Florida Panhandle.

Michael arrived in southwestern Georgia early Wednesday evening as a Category 3 major hurricane, the first hurricane of that strength to track into Georgia since the Georgia Hurricane of 1898, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, tropical scientist at Colorado State University.

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. — Search-and-rescue teams rushed on Thursday to reach communities that Hurricane Michael leveled, hoping to find survivors of the powerful storm after its rampage through the Florida Panhandle and beyond left buildings collapsed and splintered, hospitals damaged, roads and water systems compromised and more than a million homes and businesses without electricity.

Although it was clear by afternoon that the storm had caused widespread damage, some areas remained largely cut off, and the authorities were trying to deploy rescuers by helicopter and boat.

Homes flooded: Water rose knee-high and waist-high in communities near Columbia, South Carolina. At least 20 people were evacuated from their homes in Irmo, the State reported, and more than 40 homes had water in them, Ben Smith, assistant chief of the Irmo Fire District, said. 

This is a very dense part of the state, so its going to be a lot of work to get to everybody, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida said. But we will get to everybody.

• At least six people have died, and with the death toll expected to rise, the Panhandle and counties to the north were a vast, staggered disaster zone. Here is why a death might be considered storm related in one state and not another.

FLORIDA (WTOC) – Hurricane Michael made landfall this afternoon on the Florida Panhandle as a destructive Category 4 hurricane.

Images, video show Michaels destruction: All I can see is devastation

• Four deaths occurred in Gadsden County, west of Tallahassee, according to Lt. Anglie Hightower, a spokeswoman for the sheriffs office. The victims included a man who died when a tree crashed down on his home in Greensboro.

Hurricane Michael: why its so hard to predict storm intensity

• An 11-year-old girl, Sarah Radney, was killed on Wednesday when a carport was torn away and was sent hurtling into the modular home she was in, said Chad Smith, the coroner of Seminole County, Ga. She was sitting right next to her grandmother, said Mr. Smith, who described the girls death as a horrible accident.

Two people have been killed in the storm. A man was killed when a tree fell on a residence in Greensboro, Florida, and an 11-year-old girl was killed near Lake Seminole, Georgia, when a wind-lifted metal carport used for boats crashed through the roof of a house and struck her in the head.

• Governor Scott said that 30 shelters were open, with about 4,381 people occupying them. Over a thousand search-and-rescue workers had been deployed.

• In a briefing with reporters, the governor said that cities like Chipley and Bristol looked as if they had been hit by a tornado. The site of the worst damage, he said, appeared to be Mexico Beach, near where the storm made landfall. Theres just stuff everywhere, he said.

“So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything. Homes are gone businesses are gone,” Scott said. “This hurricane was an absolute monster. And the damage left in its wake is still yet to be fully understood.”

Hurricane Michaels Remarkable, Terrifying Run

• Emergency officials rushed to evacuate patients from storm-damaged hospitals. Five hospitals, five nursing homes and fifteen assisted-living facilities had reported complete evacuations to the state by Thursday afternoon. Four more hospitals and five more nursing homes said they were planning evacuations, and one additional hospital evacuation was underway.

Along a canal and the beach, foundations mark where homes once stood. Save for a few shells of houses that somehow withstood the storm, this part of the oceanfront neighborhood has been flattened.

• Much of the coast of the Florida Panhandle was left in ruins. The area is dotted with small, rural communities, some of them among the poorest in the state. Evacuation was difficult. Read more about how the storm was hard on people without the means to evacuate.

“I know you just want to go home, check on things and begin the recovery process. We are working as quickly as possible to make that happen,” Scott said. “We have to make sure things are safe.”

• At 8 p.m. on Thursday, Michael was about 5 miles northwest of Roanake Rapids, N.C., heading northeast with sustained winds of up to 50 miles an hour. Now a tropical storm, it is moving relatively quickly, at 24 m.p.h., and is expected to speed up as it crosses Virginia and blows out to sea overnight. Click on the map below to see the storms projected path.

• The big problem with this hurricane was the tremendous power, President Trump said on Thursday, adding that weve not seen destruction like that for a long time.

Homes slightly farther inland built on stilts, presumably as a form of protection against flooding, are toppled off their platforms. Some still have their roofs.

Ted Carranza could only watch with horror and wonder as Hurricane Michael lifted the houses all around him in the small town of Mexico Beach, Fla., then spun them around and dropped them.

Boats once docked in the canal have been pushed far up onto the land, and much of what would normally be on land floats in the canal.

It was insane, Mr. Carranza said Thursday from the town where the storm had crossed onto land a day earlier. It was a city in ruin. All around him, in places where there were once houses, now there were mere piles of lumber, junked home furnishings, mangled roofing, fishing rods, ceiling fans, sheets, clothing, bottles.

These were all block and stucco houses — gone, said Tom Bailey, 66, a former mayor of the city, gesturing to a flat beachside plain riddled with junk piles and a few bent trees.

The roads became passable into town on Thursday, and it became evident that few communities had suffered more. Known for its sport fishing, the city of about 2,000 permanent residents swells to as many as 14,000 in July, and is known for having a relaxed, small-town feel compared with the brash tourist strips of Panama City Beach or tony nearby beach developments like Alys Beach or Seaside.

But Mexico Beach is now a splintered, flattened wreck, with expensive boats pushed up halfway onto land, piers and docks destroyed, and the main street through town piled with the jumbled remains of permanent homes and vacation places.

The mother of all bombs doesnt do any more damage than this, said Mr. Bailey, a retired Army major, as he pushed his bicycle down the main drag, marveling at the damage.

Officials were not allowing visitors to drive into town, as the roads were barely passable, but convoys of military trucks and Humvees were moving in, while hard-hatted search and rescue crews moved door to door — although often there were no doors — to search for survivors and bodies.

In the late morning, two men from the New Orleans Fire Department could be seen searching the second story of a raised home, the face of which had been sheared off by the wind. From the ground level, the rescue workers looked like dolls in a dollhouse.

The storm reached deep into the Florida Panhandle. In Marianna, more than 60 miles northeast of Panama City, roofs and walls were torn off buildings, pine trees were snapped, and piles of bricks and debris were strewn across downtown streets.

David Bishop, a former TV news reporter based in Tallahassee, who drove into town Thursday to check on his parents, said he was stunned by what he saw.

There are buildings over 100 years old where the facades were just ripped off, Mr. Bishop said. It looks like a bomb, not a hurricane.

Leroy E. Wilson Jr., who was driving from his home near Marianna to Dothan, Ala., said: The area is totally destroyed almost. We have no power. The neighbors have no power.

Six Dead, Nearly 1 Million Without Power as Hurricane Michael Mauls Southeast US

Rescue efforts started Thursday morning, and Mr. Bishop said residents were out helping one another dig out. Some were even clearing roads. Chain saws are the hot commodity here, he said.

LIST: American Red Cross opening shelters in SC ahead of Hurricane Michael

Well be without power for a while, Mr. Bishop said. The yard? Im about to put in some sweat equity with my brothers.

Bay Medical Center Sacred Heart, a 300-bed hospital in the heart of Panama City, Fla., was a tumultuous mess on Thursday morning. Hurricane Michael had strafed the center, breaking windows, damaging roofs and stripping off the outsides of some buildings. Signage was strewn in the streets. Doctors, nurses and staff members wandered outside, some crying, some looking for cell service.

Bay Medical was one of two hospitals in Panama City — the other being Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center — that was damaged in the storm. Both were evacuating patients.

Stay off the roads until Michaels winds and rain pass, Gov. Roy Cooper says

Bay Medical said in a statement that about 200 patients would be evacuated, including 39 intensive care patients who will be transferred first, to hospitals outside the affected area. About 1,500 people had taken shelter in the hospital, the statement said.

The hospital was in poor condition to take in patients. Staff members said the hospital had partial electricity from its generators; there was no water and the toilets were filling up. Windows were broken. One staff member said that the fourth floor was flooded. She had tied plastic bags over her shoes and the legs of her scrubs.

Dr. Brian Roake, the head of the anesthesiology department, was among those who rode out the hurricane in the hospital. It was like hell, he said.

Some Springfield, Fla., residents were desperate for supplies, and sometimes took what they needed. At a half-ruined Dollar General store on Thursday, residents walked in and out of a shattered glass door with instant coffee, soft drinks, water and nail polish.

Down here, dude, its fight for yourself, said another man who walked off with an armful of sodas. Its no water, no power nowhere.

An S.U.V. full of men pulled up. A couple entered. One of them moved through the flooded store stuffing a backpack with Gatorade bottles.

I need some batteries, someone else said. What are you gonna do if you need something? I got toddlers at home.

The photographers Gabriella Angotti-Jones, Scott McIntyre, Johnny Milano and Eric Thayer are on the ground in Florida covering the storm for The New York Times. See their images here.

Tyndall Air Force Base, which straddles a narrow spit of land jutting out into the Gulf, a dozen miles south of Panama City, sustained extensive damage, a post on the bases Facebook page said.

Winds topping 130 miles an hour knocked down trees, felled power lines, tore roofs from buildings, and ripped a static display of an F-15 fighter jet at the base entrance from its foundation, pitching it into the air and tipping it upside down.

Fortunately, there have been no injuries reported on Tyndall at this time, the Facebook post said.

Before-and-After Photos Show Hurricane Michaels Destruction

The base, which sits just nine feet above sea level, is home to a series of hangars and a runway, as well as tree-lined neighborhoods for about 600 Air Force personnel. The base hosts a number of jets, including F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, which cost well over $100 million each. The base commander ordered all jets to fly to inland bases earlier in the week.

Video footage taken from a helicopter, and posted on Twitter by the commercial weather forecaster AccuWeather, showed widespread damage.

How Hurricane Michael Got Super Big, Super Fast

The roof of the bases largest hangar, which has been used to store jets during weaker storms, was skinned down to its steel rafters, revealing at least three small planes inside, covered in debris. Though the video did not reveal large amounts of standing water near the flight line, it showed roofs shorn off several other buildings surrounding the hangar, garage doors punched in, and cars flipped over.

It was unclear Thursday if the runway was usable. Base officials said they were assessing damage. It was not known when personnel would be able to return.

Other Air Force bases along the coast, as well as the Navy base in Panama City, have resumed limited operations.

Panama City bears brunt of Hurricane Michaels destructive force

Governor Scott said Thursday that Michael had left a wide trail of devastation, and that the authorities had turned their immediate focus to rescue efforts.

We are deploying a massive wave of response, and those efforts are already underway, Mr. Scott said. Help is coming by air, land and sea.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said he had heard from the local authorities who described extensive damage. These are not people prone to hyperbole, Mr. Rubio said on CNN. Panama City is catastrophic damage. Someone told me, Mexico Beach is gone.

Hurricane Michael Tears Through Florida; 2 People Reported Dead

The other areas of greatest concern were the eastern parts of Panama City, Apalachicola and around Tyndall Air Force Base, said Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mr. Long said that he was equally concerned about communities in southwest Georgia, which received Category 2 wind speeds, because of the large number of mobile homes in that part of the state. We are always worried about trees falling on manufactured homes and mobile homes, he said.

Early reports suggested significant damage. Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia said 450,000 homes and businesses were without power in the state, and that 35 hospitals or nursing homes were without electricity and operating with generators.

Right now, the main focus is going to be on debris removal so that power line trucks and repair crews can access the areas that are without power, Mr. Deal said at the State Capitol in Atlanta.

Mr. Long expected the search-and-rescue process to be challenging, given all the fallen trees, debris and downed power lines. He worried that the number of people killed in the storm would rise once crews reached places where people did not evacuate.

Florida officials also pleaded with residents to stay off the roads as crews tried to clear debris and emergency workers were scrambling to hard-hit areas. They asked people to avoid downed power lines, and not to drive through flooded areas. They urged residents and visitors to keep emergency phone lines open and, in some areas, to boil their water or use bottled water. They told them to position generators at least 15 feet from homes, and to stay indoors.

In a somewhat unusual step, the state had activated a team from a nonprofit humanitarian aid organization that typically works in overseas disasters, the International Medical Corps, including 50 nurses, two hospital emergency department teams and one emergency hospital.

After a ferocious wallop of the Florida Panhandle, the tropical storm that was once Hurricane Michael slogged up through the Carolinas on Thursday, states that have had a lifetimes worth of bad weather in the last few years. Disastrous floods swamped South Carolina in 2015, then Matthew hit in 2016, then Florence in September, and now this.

For North Carolina, Michael isnt as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcomed insult to injury, so we must be on alert, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement on Thursday.

Michael is taking a very different track through the Carolinas; it is headed up through the west-central parts of the states, drenching mid-state cities and mountain towns — there was a minor landslide in far western North Carolina — while to a large degree sparing the eastern stretches that were inundated a month ago.

Hurricane Michael leaves unimaginable destruction

Officials in places like Wilmington, N.C., reduced to a powerless island for days after Florence, are using terms like inconvenience to describe the potential effects of Michael. Officials in Appalachian counties are bracing for problems they had expected but largely dodged during Florence.

The ground is already inundated, its been a very wet time, said Will Holt, the emergency services director in mountainous Watauga County, N.C., where firefighters have already had to rescue people from flooded areas. The wind is projected to pick back up as well.

Richard Fausset reported from Mexico Beach; Patricia Mazzei from Panacea, Fla.; and Alan Blinder from Atlanta. Reporting was contributed by Chris Dixon from Lumberton, N.C.; Campbell Robertson from Pittsburgh; Sabrina Tavernise from Washington; Sheri Fink, Melissa Gomez, Mihir Zaveri, Niraj Chokshi and Matthew Haag from New York; and Daniel Victor from Hong Kong.

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