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Devastated by Hurricane Michael, Florida starts recovery
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, politics
Florida’s Panhandle took stock on Thursday of the hammering destruction wrought by Hurricane Michael, with homes obliterated or reduced to rubble and power lines and trees ripped up by the third most powerful storm ever to strike the U.S. mainland.Michael, now weakened to a tropical storm as it doused Georgia and the Carolinas with drenching rain, crashed ashore on Wednesday near the small town of Mexico Beach carrying winds of up to 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour) and causing deep seawater flooding. The storm killed two people.In Mexico Beach, CNN aerial footage showed homes closest to the beach had lost all but their foundations. A few blocks inland, about half the homes were reduced to piles of wood and siding and those still standing suffered heavy damage.Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, called the town, which has a population of about 1,200, “ground zero” for the hurricane damage.One objective was to help people who could be trapped in various areas along the coast, he told a news conference. This part of northwest Florida is known for its small beach towns and wildlife reserves.In Panama City, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Mexico Beach, buildings were crushed and boats were scattered around. Michael left a trail of utility wires on roads, flattened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church.Al Hancock, 45, who works on a tour boat, survived in Panama City with his wife and dog.“The roof fell in but we lived through it,” he said.Florida Governor Rick Scott told the Weather Channel the damage from Panama City down to Mexico Beach was “way worse than anybody ever anticipated.”John Billiot, president of America’s Cajun Navy, a group of volunteers who bring boats and vehicles to help during disasters, said Michael was unprecedented.“We’ve been doing this since 2005,” he told CNN while working on rescues around Panama City. “I have never been scared of a storm a day in my life. This one right here put the fear of God into me. It gives me goosebumps talking about it.”(Reuters)See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Twitter and Tumblr. read more
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