Hurricane Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm on Thursday, a day after it made landfall with winds up to 250 km per hour in Florida’s Panhandle region, Reuters reported. The storm, which killed two people, weakened in its intensity as it progressed to Georgia.
The hurricane disrupted power supply to 7 lakh homes and businesses in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
The hurricane caused windows of buildings to break and roofs to cave in, and submerged homes in floodwaters before heading towards Georgia, The Guardian reported. With a wind speed of nearly 250 km per hour, the hurricane was just short of category 5 status, making it the worst storm to strike the United States since 1992 when Hurricane Andrew ravaged Florida. “Communities are going to see unimaginable devastation,” Florida Governor Rick Scott had warned. He said this was the strongest hurricane to hit Florida in a century.
A man died after a tree fell on a home near Greensboro town in Florida on Wednesday evening, CNN reported. Gadsden County Sheriff Office spokesperson Anglie Hightower said telephone lines were not working. She described the damage in the county as “catastrophic”.
A girl died after debris fell into a home in Georgia on Thursday, Reuters reported.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency urged people to avoid using roads as excessive rainfall from the storm may lead to flash floods.
More than 3,70,000 people in Florida were ordered to evacuate, BBC reported. However, just 6,700 people have been housed in 54 shelters. As many as 3,500 soldiers and airmen have been deployed for rescue operations while 1,000 law enforcement officers and 19,000 power restoration personnel are ready for deployment in the state.
“It’s a time of incredible caution,” Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio advised people. “Every time we have these storms, somebody loses their life in the aftermath for a lot of different reasons.”
The hurricane weakened to a category 1 storm late on Wednesday. United States President Donald Trump spoke to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and his Alabama counterpart Kay Ivey. Trump had declared a state of emergency in Florida, and sanctioned additional federal resources and assistance, the White House said. The Alabama governor also requested a declaration of emergency.