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14 October 2018, 01:12 | Ross Houston
Waffle Houses stay open 24/7- but 18 restaurants in Florida have closed because of how severe Hurricane Michael
That could change, as efforts to assess damage and look for casualties in the worst-hit communities have been hampered by downed utility lines and roads blocked by debris and fallen trees.
Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle near Mexico Beach and Panama City on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane with whopping 155 miles per hour winds, making it just short of a Category 5, the strongest on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. The sky cleared on Thursday, in contrast to the torrential rain of the previous day. Nine people had to be rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of a home in hard-hit Panama City after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said.
Entire blocks of homes near the beach were obliterated, leaving concrete slabs in the sand.
At least six deaths, including four in Florida, have been blamed on Michael, the third-most powerful hurricane ever to hit the US mainland.
The storm hit the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia hard, taking the lives of at least two people.
Briefing President Donald Trump at the White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said Michael was the most intense hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since record keeping began in 1851.
Long said there could still be people trapped in the area, known for its small coastal towns and wildlife reserves.
Michael Williams, 70, waves to passing motorists while looking for food and water as downed trees prevent him from driving out of his damaged hom with his family in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Springfield, Fla., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Outside, she said in a phone interview, she could see remnants of people's lives strewn about: refrigerators, a beanbag chair, a washing machine, a kayak and a dresser.
Numerous injured in Florida were taken to hard-hit Panama City, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Mexico Beach.
More than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power. The damage at Bay Medical Sacred Heart included blown-out windows and a cracked exterior wall though no patients were hurt. A year ago the school welcomed students and families displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
"The kids live nearby. It destroyed everything", Jason Gunderson, a member of a group of rescuers that calls itself the Cajun Navy, told CNN early on Thursday from Callaway, a suburb of Panama City.
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Now a tropical storm, the system is moving through SC on its way to North Carolina - two states that are still coping with the effects of flooding from Hurricane Florence.
As of 2 p.m. EST, the tropical storm was 25 miles south of Greensboro, North Carolina.
"The center of Michael will move across eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia this evening, and move into the western Atlantic Ocean tonight", it said.
Michael pummeled communities across the Panhandle and turned streets into roof-high waterways.
Thousands of people hunkered down in shelters overnight after fleeing their homes ahead of the storm.
Hundreds of thousands of people remained Thursday without power in several States in the south-eastern United States, including almost 390.000 in Florida, the 130,000 in SC and 220,000 in North Carolina.
He and his partner Cheri Papineau, 50, pushed on their door for an hour to stop the storm surge bursting in as their four dogs sat on top of a bed floating in their home.
The Talmadge Bridge on USA 17 over the Savannah River between Savannah, Georgia and SC remains closed because of the threat of high winds on the suspension bridge.
On Thursday, residents who evacuated tried to return.
In terms of pressure, The Washington Postreported that Michael is the third-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States, even ranking above Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
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