The storm that struck the south
Everything you need to know about Hurricane Michael
What has been deemed the strongest storm to hit Florida in nearly a century by National Geographic, Hurricane Michael seemed to have snuck up on Florida residents, traveling into the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia leaving a disastrous path in its wake. The storm reached a death toll of 18 as of Sunday Oct. 14, when another victim was discovered in Virginia, according to a CNN update. Here’s everything you need to know on the storm that struck the south.
Hurricane Michael was originally forecasted to strike as a relatively weak hurricane; dangerous but nothing historic, according to The Atlantic. The storm that made landfall was anything but.
Beginning in the southwest Caribbean Sea, Hurricane Michael was first monitored by the National Hurricane Center on Oct. 2. The storm strengthened to a full hurricane by Oct. 8. The storm officially made landfall on the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 storm on Oct. 10, the first time in recorded history for this area.
The last time a major hurricane hit the panhandle was back in 2005 when Hurricane Denis hit the shores as a Category 4 hurricane. With 155 mph winds upon landfall, Hurricane Michael is the strongest storm to come ashore in the continental U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
About 280 of the town’s 1,200 residents originally indicated they would ride out the storm, but several of those likely fled at the last minute when the approaching storm’s devastating strength became clear, Mayor of Mexico Beach Al Cathey said in an interview with CNN. In Mexico Beach alone, 46 of those who didn’t evacuate were still missing on Sunday Oct. 10, Cathey told ABC News.
Hurricane Michael was downgraded to Category 3 on Wednesday, Oct. 10 and became the first Category 3 hurricane to hit Georgia since 1898, according to CNN. The 13th major storm identified in this Atlantic hurricane season, the storm has been moving north through the Gulf of Mexico, where warmer-than-average waters are said to be the cause of larger growth, according to National Geographic.
Hurricane Michael moved offshore Friday, Oct. 12 and into the Atlantic Ocean as a post-tropical storm, according to USA Today. Damage continues to be present in every area hit by the storm in downed power lines, twisted street signs, broken car windows and hundreds of shambled homes.
“So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in an interview with USA Today, calling it “unimaginable destruction.”
Of the 18 people killed as the hurricane swept through the Florida panhandle, Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina, only one of the confirmed deaths was reported in Mexico Beach. As of Sunday Oct. 13, more than 435,000 customers are still without power in seven states from Florida to Virginia. The death toll remains at 18 but authorities say it could continue climbing, according to CNN.
Damage from the hurricane is expected to displace students from 25 of the district’s 38 schools; some for months, others for years. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a statement on Oct. 14 that they currently have 14 teams in place in Florida to assist in registering people for disaster assistance. There are also 17 distribution points throughout Florida and Georgia where people can get food and water in places where stores remain closed or there are limited supplies. Of the people that chose to stay, FEMA conducted 58 evacuations, 403 rescues/assists, 3,362 shelter in place checks, and 128 animal assists, according to the release.
“Seventy-five percent of our city is not here (destroyed),” Cathey said in an interview with CNN. “There’s not one local business that’s operational.”
The Florida Division of Emergency Management for the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) has been using their Twitter account to keep residents updated on local help. The account continuously puts out power outage reports as well as informing followers of resources for survivors and their locations.
Hurricane Michael survivors are working tirelessly towards rebuilding and reconstruction in the wake of the storm’s aftermath. Many organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Save the Children and Direct Relief have been fundraising in support of the people affected. Trump announced on Monday, Oct 15 after having visited the aftermath in Florida that he would ask Congress for emergency disaster aid in the aftermath of the storm, according to The Washington Post.
“We’re doing more than has probably ever been done,” Trump said in an interview with the Washington Post. “In 30 days, you will not recognize this place.”