Washington, Oct 11 (IANS) The most powerful hurricane to hit the US’ Florida in a century has killed one person as it flooded beach towns, submerging homes and snapping trees like twigs.
Hurricane Michael, a category three storm with 200kmph winds made landfall on Wednesday afternoon in the state’s Panhandle region, the BBC reported.
One person was killed by a falling tree, a Florida official said. More than 370,000 people in Florida were ordered to evacuate, but officials reckon many ignored the warning.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long said at the White House on Wednesday that he was especially concerned about buildings constructed before 2001 that might not withstand such high winds.
“We just hope those structures can hold up,” President Donald Trump responded. “And if not, that there are no one in those structures.”
Michael is so powerful that it remained a hurricane as it moved overland to bear down on Alabama and Georgia. Its rapid intensification caught many by surprise.
Unusually warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico turbo-charged the storm from a tropical depression on Sunday, the BBC said.
It was a category two hurricane by Tuesday, and a borderline category five on Wednesday morning, packing 155mph winds, the Met said.
Florida Governor Rick Scott warned of “unimaginable devastation”, saying it would be the worst storm in 100 years. “The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle.”
Michael reportedly killed at least 13 people in Central America: six in Honduras, four in Nicaragua and three in El Salvador before reaching the US shores.
Michael is perhaps the third-most powerful storm ever to make landfall in the mainland US, after Hurricane Camille in Mississippi in 1969 and the Labour Day hurricane of 1935 in Florida.