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Michael Ravishes Georgia, Leaves Florida In Ruins

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Hurricane Michael marched through Georgia and has reached South Carolina after devastating the panhandle of Florida.

When the storm reached landfall late Wednesday, afternoon, its sustained winds were 155 mph, only two miles short of a Category 5 storm. It is already designated the most powerful hurricane to ever strike the Florida panhandle and, based on its barometric pressure, it has been ranked as the third most powerful hurricane to ever hit the U.S. mainland. It is the fourth strongest hurricane based on its wind speed.

Mexico Beach has been worst hit with reports saying it has been “wiped out.” In Panama City near where Michael came ashore, the ground is muddled with broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines. The storm ripped off and hurled roofs into the air and fallen trees destroyed homes.

Michael has been designated as a tropical storm, but it still carries a punch. According to the National Hurricane Center, its sustained winds were 60 mph at 2 a.m. this morning and have decreased to 50 mph by 5 a.m. as it neared South Carolina. The center added that winds have increased at some locations along the Georgia and South Carolina coast. Large sections of Georgia, the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia are expecting flash floods.

As of 8:30 a.m. Thursday, there has been two confirmed deaths and Florida Governor Rick Scott that “…a lot of people I’ve heard are injured.”

William “Brock” Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said that it is concentrating its resources on search and rescue, particularly in Mexico Beach. “There’s a lot of debris that we’ve got to get through,” he told CNN. He added that he expects the death toll to rise as the search and rescue teams do their work.

He also said that another major priority is to restore power throughout the Southeast.

More than half a million people across Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina are without power due to the storm. It may take weeks before power is restored to some of them, commented Long.

As darkness fell on Tallahassee on Wednesday, there were 112,000 electric utility customers without power. Much of the power outages were due to fallen trees knocking down power lines.

By Wednesday night first responders and utility crews were in the field assessing damage.

About 120 line workers from other utilities have joined 80 to 100 electric workers from local utilities in Tallahassee on Tuesday and were ready to make repairs once the storm passed. An additional 400 line workers were expected to travel to Tallahassee today.

As of 8 a.m. today (10/11), there are about 842,000 customers without power –-324,000 in Florida, 319,000 in Georgia, 130,000 in South Carolina, and 69,000 in Alabama. The top counties impacted include:

Leon County, FL Tallahassee-Thomasville, FL-GA 135,082
Bay County, FL Panama City, FL 102,890
Houston County, AL Dothan, AL 21,089
Aiken County, SC Augusta-Aiken, GA-SC 18,038
Richland County, SC Columbia, SC 16,305
Wakulla County, FL Tallahassee-Thomasville, FL-GA 15,474
Gadsden County, FL Tallahassee-Thomasville, FL-GA 15,112
Lee County, GA Columbus, GA 13,116
Decatur County, GA Tallahassee-Thomasville, FL-GA 13,102
Sumter County, GA Columbus, GA 12,667
Henry County, AL Dothan, AL 11,219
Dale County, AL Dothan, AL 10,969
Franklin County, FL Panama City, FL 10,309
Gulf County, FL Panama City, FL 9,424

By Friday morning the storm is anticipated to be off the coast of Virginia and then sweeping across the Atlantic Ocean and curving toward Europe over the weekend and into Monday Morning.

Many of the victims of Hurricane Michael have been able to avoid power outages because they had standby generators. The generators assured that food stored in refrigerators and freezers remained edible and that medications stored in refrigerators remained potent.

Many of today’s standby generators feature Wi-Fi so that owners can control them with a smartphone from wherever they are on the planet. This is a great feature that no doubt Florida panhandle residents were able to use if they evacuated their homes to seek safety. When they return home they don’t have to replenish their supply of spoiled food or medications.

For those residents who did not have a standby generator, chalk up their experiences with Hurricane Michael as a teaching moment that showed the importance of having a generator on hand.