It’s hard to grasp the sheer destruction caused by Hurricane Michael, but these numbers help put it in perspective.
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,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, calling it “unimaginable destruction.”
Now, cities are assessing damages and begining to clean up debris. Here’s what we know Friday:
Where the storm is now
Michael moved off the East Coast early Friday morning and into the Atlantic Ocean as a post-tropical storm.
Nearly 1.5 million customers across five states were without power early Friday morning, 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 hospitals and nursing homes in Panama City, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients.
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.
Six people have been reported killed from the storm.
Sweet was killed in Gadsden County, Florida, near the state border with Georgia, when a tree fell into his home. Radney, 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. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his car.
Rescues and recovery
The U.S. Coast Guard had rescued about 40 people as of 6:30 p.m. EDT Thursday and assisted 232 others, including 142 nursing home patients, according to a news release. Response teams were also working to remove roadway debris to clear paths for emergency services.
The recovery in Florida will take time – especially in Mexico Beach, where Michael made landfall on 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.
Hurricane that made history
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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