Hurricane Michael Hits the Panhandle

Posted by on Oct 17, 2018 in Current Events

As the Carolinas struggle to recover from Hurricane Florence, another deadly storm has hit the eastern United States. Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida panhandle last Wednesday, leaving behind a wide path of destruction in Florida and across southern Georgia that has leveled entire towns and left more than a dozen dead. Here, btw takes a closer look at this devastating hurricane.

A Record-Breaking Storm

Michael made landfall last Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane with winds up to 155mph. It was the first Category 4 storm to hit the Florida panhandle since record-keeping began in 1851, and the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental United States in nearly fifty years. Michael brought storm surges of 9 to 14 feet, and left behind a 700-mile trail of destruction from Florida through Virginia, leaving a million people without power as of Friday evening.

As of Friday evening, the death toll had risen to 16, including an 11-year-old girl in Georgia, who was killed when high winds dropped a carport onto the roof of her house. Even worse, the death toll is expected to continue to rise as more people who are currently considered missing are located.

Related Links The National Hurricane Center, within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), has a Web site with lots of history about storm preparations, notable past storms and more. Click the links below to increase your own knowledge about hurricanes in the United States.

  1. Click here if you have ever wondered how storms get their names.
  2. Click here to learn more about how to prepare for big weather.
  3. Click here to read about other significant storms in American history.

“Ground Zero”

Hardest hit by Michael was Mexico Beach, Florida, which was almost completely leveled by the storm. Authorities estimate that it could be up to two months before power is fully restored to the area. For now, the town’s water supply is safe, but fallen trees and debris are blocking the roads, making it difficult for emergency responders to get through. Nearly three hundred Mexico Beach residents ignored evacuation warnings and stayed in their homes to ride out the storm. As of Friday evening, most are still unaccounted for. Panama City Beach, a popular tourist destination, was badly hit as well.

Other Concerns

A hurricane of this force has consequences beyond what we may immediately think of. For example, high winds from Michael have blown a toxic algae bloom into the Tampa area. The bloom has killed huge amounts of marine life and has also caused people to have respiratory issues. This presents a serious ecological threat to the area.

Oil production has also been affected. As of Friday evening, 32.4 percent of oil production and over 13 percent of natural gas production remained shut down in the Gulf of Mexico.

In politics, with the midterm elections just a few weeks away, the hurricane has had an impact as well. Governor Rick Scott and his challenger, Senator Bill Nelson, have agreed to delay their scheduled debate for two weeks to focus on hurricane recovery efforts. Also, the Florida Democratic Party requested that the deadline to register to vote in Florida be extended, but a federal judge denied this request.

The president, busy this past weekend with political rallies, visited Florida to survey the damage and encourage affected residents on Tuesday. He also approved a formal emergency declaration, which authorizes spending federal money to aid in the recovery.

What Do You Think? The Walt Disney Companies has pledged one million dollars to the Florida Disaster Fund for hurricane relief efforts. Why do you think Disney might have an interest in promoting recovery efforts in Florida?