[dropcap]T[/dropcap]wo people were killed as Hurricane Michael continued to batter the Southeastern United States, pummeling states with powerful rain, wind and flooding.
Wreaking havoc and prompting emergencies as it moves through the region, Hurricane Michael, the strongest hurricane on record to hit the area, lashed Florida’s Panhandle region earlier on Wednesday, with sustained winds reaching 155mph (249kph) – just 2mph short of category five standard. The Category four hurricane continued to charge north.
More than 600,000 were without power across the region on Wednesday night and officials warn that some areas could be without power for days.
Mexico Beach, Florida, was hit with severe damage where the powerful, unprecedented storm made landfall. Wind gusts over 100 mph were common across during the height of the storm.
“A Category 4 hurricane has never struck that part of Florida,” said AccuWeather Vice President of Forecasting and Graphics Operations Marshall Moss. “The coastline will be changed for decades.”
The National Hurricane Center said the storm is a “worst-case scenario” for the region. Michael is the first Category 4 hurricane to hit the area.
Based on internal Barometric pressure, Michael was the third strongest storm to hit the US mainland. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) described Michael as “potentially catastrophic.”
“In the hardest-hit areas, the possibility exists that we will be rebuilding our system while we are restoring power,” said Gulf Power spokesperson Jeff Powers. “Customers in the high impact areas could be without power for weeks.”
Over 200 roads are impassable due to uprooted trees and power lines in the city of Tallahassee.
“Hurricane Michael is the worst storm that the Florida Panhandle has ever seen,” said Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, where 375,000 people were ordered evacuated from the western part of the state.
Florida has opened 38 emergency shelters to accommodate the residents and to provide with basic amenities and relief.
The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, said it had pre-positioned more than 2,200 active-duty military personnel, along with helicopters, high-water vehicles, and swift-water boats for deployment if needed.
Bay Medical-Sacred Heart Hospital in Panam City, Florida said in a tweet: “We recognize several individuals have reached out regarding loved ones at Bay Medical-Sacred Heart including patients and employees. While we cannot disclose individual updates, we have confirmed that all of our patients, visitors, and staff are safe.”
The Florida Panhandle is northwestern part of the U.S. state of Florida, is a strip of land roughly 200 miles long and 50 to 100 miles wide, lying between Alabama on the north and the west, Georgia also on the north, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south.