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October 12, 2018

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Hurricane Michael leaves trail of devastation in Florida

Hurricane Michael leaves trail of devastation in Florida

PANAMA CITY, United States: Desolate concrete slabs where houses once stood. Boats tossed in yards. Uprooted trees. Piles of rubble and debris everywhere.

Hurricane Michael left a trail of devastation along a huge swathe of the Florida Panhandle. The extent of the damage was becoming clear on Thursday as AFP reporters and photographers toured affected areas and US television networks flew helicopters along the coast.

At least two deaths have been reported from Michael, which made landfall on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm and has since been downgraded to a tropical storm as it moves into the Carolinas.

"There is unbelievable devastation," Florida Governor Rick Scott said on CNN. "We know many people have been injured. I don’t know the numbers yet." Scott said search-and-rescue teams had worked throughout the night looking for survivors of the most powerful storm to hit the Panhandle in more than a century.

"We have a massive flow of search and rescue, Highway Patrol, National Guard, utility workers, pushing their way down to these impacted areas," the governor said. The Florida State Emergency Response Team meanwhile said 400,000 homes and businesses were without power.

The resort town of Mexico Beach, where the hurricane made landfall, suffered massive destruction from the 155 miles per hour winds. Home after home was razed from its foundations in the town of around 1,000 people. Others were missing roofs or walls. Roads were impassable and canals were choked with debris.

A Mexico Beach resident who rode out the hurricane described the impact of the storm surge to CNN. "When the water came in houses started floating," said the man identified as Scott. "We had furniture in our house that wasn’t even our furniture. The surge had brought stuff in.

"There’s nothing left here anymore," he said of the town. "Our lives are gone here. All the stores, all the restaurants, everything. "It’s hard to grasp," he said. "This was never in our imagination."

Nearby Panama City Beach experienced similar damage along with other communities along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. A storage facility in Panama City Beach housing hundreds of boats was ripped apart by the strong winds with the roof shredding into strips of twisted metal.

At 11:00 am Eastern time (1500 GMT), Michael was dumping heavy rainfall on South and North Carolina, where cities and towns are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

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