Florida surveys damage as Michael inundates the Carolinas

By Mark Berman, Antonia Noori Farzan, Eli Rosenberg and J. Freedom du Lac | Washington Post

Tropical Storm Michael continued to march through the Southeast, still packing powerful winds and flood-causing rains.

Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a “potentially catastrophic” Category 4 hurricane – the strongest on record to hit the area – and charged north through Georgia and into the Carolinas, wreaking havoc and causing emergencies. In the storm’s wake lay crushed and flooded buildings, shattered lives and at least six deaths.

Michael pummeled Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City, Florida, causing “widespread roof damage to nearly every home and leaving the base closed until further notice, officials said.

Tyndall is located just east of Panama City, which endured punishing winds and took intense rain from the storm.

“At this point, Tyndall residents and evacuated personnel should remain at their safe location,” said Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander. “We are actively developing plans to reunite families and plan to provide safe passage back to base housing.”

In a statement, officials said the that the “catastrophic” storm delivered a direct hit to the base, “bringing down trees and power lines, ripping roofs off buildings and causing significant structural damage.”

Michael’s winds topped 150 miles per hour. No injuries have so far been reported, the base said, but the condition of Tyndall’s runway is not yet known.

Tyndall’s mandatory evacuation order was declared Monday, and it remains in effect. The 600 families who live on base were offered space in local shelters.

“Initial assessments of the damage at Tyndall Air Force base have identified severe damage to the base infrastructure,” according to an Air Force official. “There is no power, water or sewer service to the base at this time. All personnel assigned to ride out the storm are accounted for with no injuries. The Air Force is working to conduct aerial surveillance of the damage, to clear a route to the base and to provide security, potable water, latrines and communication equipment. The base will remain closed and Airmen assigned to Tyndall should not plan to return at this time.”

President Donald Trump approved disaster requests for Georgia and Florida stemming from the hurricane, moves that authorize federal authorities to coordinate response efforts while also opening up federal funding to officials in those areas.

The White House said Trump declared a major disaster in Florida, while FEMA said that he had signed an emergency declaration for Georgia. In remarks Thursday, Trump addressed the hurricane, noting that it had swept through the area quickly.

“The big problem with this hurricane was the tremendous power, and fortunately it was very fast,” he said Thursday. “It went through Florida very, very quickly.”

Trump also defended his decision to hold a political rally in Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, an event that occurred while the storm, then still packing hurricane-force winds, was still churning through the Southeast, saying that he could not disappoint the people already in line.

Although Michael has weakened, but it continued to batter the Southeast and the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


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