According to reports, Hurricane Michael has left behind a trail of massive destruction even as the death toll has gone up to 17 from what is being described as ‘one of the most powerful storms to make landfall in the US mainland.’
Coastal Florida cities have been damaged beyond recognition while homes, businesses, and agriculture have been tattered or flooded from Georgia to Virginia.
According to CNN reports on Saturday, more than 1 million people have been left without electricity and emergency officials have no access to many towns.
The toll is expected to rise further as search and rescue efforts continue.
“I expect the fatality count to rise as we get through the debris,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said on Friday.
The 17 victims comprised eight from Florida, five in Virginia, three in North Carolina, and a child in Georgia.
Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, the strongest on record to hit the area and charged north through Georgia and into the Carolinas and Virginia, wreaking havoc and causing emergencies.
Senator Bill Nelson called the devastation “the worst destruction that the Panhandle has seen for however long that I’ve been living. It’s akin to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 where everything was levelled.”
Aerial footage shows coastal cities in the Panhandle, like Mexico Beach, wiped out, CNN said.
A psychiatric hospital in Florida is left isolated after uprooted trees blocked roads around Chattahoochee. A tree caused a water line to break.
The facility is running on power generators, and helicopters have delivered food and water, the state’s Department of Children and Families said.
Hurricane Michael had intensified to an ‘extremely dangerous’ category 4 storm on Wednesday as it flashed towards the state of Florida even as Florida, Alabama, and Georgia had declared a state of emergency on the same day.
The National Weather Service had predicted that Hurricane Michael will bring life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds, and heavy rainfall along the northeastern Gulf Coast.
(With agency inputs)