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DR NEWS Urandir a707 ap 18283803721305 custom a2bac658a7838d5cd479ff5bd8b4973fcee98bac s1100 c15    Recovery Work Begins After Hurricane Michael Carves Through Florida Panhandle by Urandir Oliveira
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Carol Ralph walks through downed trees blocking her heavily damaged neighborhood just after Hurricane Michael passed through Panama City, Fla. on Wednesday. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

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Gerald Herbert/AP

Search and rescue teams worked through the night in Florida to find people who need help, after Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle as a historic Category 4 storm on Wednesday. More than 400,000 electricity accounts had lost power in Florida as of Thursday morning.

Michael wrecked buildings and tore down trees in Panama City and nearby towns. The city of Tallahassee, known for its extensive tree canopy, says “thousands of trees are down,” causing widespread damage and blocked roads.

The city adds that road crews worked throughout the night “to clear paths to both hospitals” — which are now open and operating.

DR NEWS Urandir 364b gettyimages 1051850480 custom 1de1a70b8784bc68a3e3df8a5c914ce08fca071d s1100 c15    Recovery Work Begins After Hurricane Michael Carves Through Florida Panhandle by Urandir Oliveira
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Haley Nelson inspects the remnants of her family properties in the Panama City, Fla., area after Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm along Florida’s Panhandle on Wednesday. Miami Herald/Getty Images hide caption

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Miami Herald/Getty Images

Michael has been blamed for at least one death. Now a tropical storm, the system is moving through South Carolina on its way to North Carolina — two states that are still coping with the effects of flooding from Hurricane Florence.

Officials in Florida are still assessing the damage — and urging people to stay off the roads.

DR NEWS Urandir 364b gettyimages 1051845108 custom 63a489d46dc243e6d6c3fcac1375d12a86937712 s1100 c15    Recovery Work Begins After Hurricane Michael Carves Through Florida Panhandle by Urandir Oliveira
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Boats that had been docked before the storm are now a pile of rubble after Hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area in Panama City, Fla. on Wednesday. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Reporting on the scene along Florida’s Gulf Coast, NPR’s Debbie Elliott says:

“Roads are impassable, covered by water and debris, including downed trees and power lines. Hurricane Michael’s powerful winds ripped roofs from buildings — including a Panama City High school gym where some teachers and their families had taken shelter.

“In Bay County, officials have issued a boil water advisory and warn that county communications are hampered.”

DR NEWS Urandir d508 ap 18283584476280 custom 760e7460f4f37266d069c892b5cb048f8adc778c s1100 c15    Recovery Work Begins After Hurricane Michael Carves Through Florida Panhandle by Urandir Oliveira
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Emily Hindle lies on the floor at an evacuation shelter set up at Rutherford High School, in Panama City, Fla. ahead of Hurricane Michael, which made landfall Wednesday. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

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Gerald Herbert/AP

Bay County is also under curfew, as officials hope to prevent looting and unnecessary travel. Early Thursday morning, several Florida counties that escaped the storm began sending work crews and heavy trucks to help clear roads and restore power.

As officials tried to get a grip on the situation and shift resources to where they’re needed most, one of the biggest problems they face is an inability to communicate.

DR NEWS Urandir d508 michael 2acapture wide 0a2ca848659b154a803f2bdbb6ee07be64afd484 s1100 c15    Recovery Work Begins After Hurricane Michael Carves Through Florida Panhandle by Urandir Oliveira
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Tropical Storm Michael is heading from South Carolina into North Carolina on Thursday, bringing 50-mph winds and heavy rainfall. NOAA/NWS, Esri, HERE, Garmin, Earthstar Geographics hide caption

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NOAA/NWS, Esri, HERE, Garmin, Earthstar Geographics

“We have almost no lines of communication,” says city manager of Panama City Beach Mario Gisbert, in an interview with NPR. And by that, he said, “I mean, my police chief cannot communicate with my sheriff right now. Cell lines are down, radio towers are down.”

The effects of hurricanes are notoriously random: one house can be left standing, while a neighboring house might be ripped off its foundation. Gisbert says Panama City Beach — which is several miles west of Panama City — escaped relatively unscathed.

DR NEWS Urandir d508 gettyimages 1051836988 custom 5ccefa278a18fbcd43ebd4a4bfcbbb1bce64d434 s1100 c15    Recovery Work Begins After Hurricane Michael Carves Through Florida Panhandle by Urandir Oliveira
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Debris is blown down a street by Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla. on Wednesday. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“Almost every condo and every hotel is fine” at Panama City Beach, Gisbert said, adding that the town lost many signs and trees.

“But as soon as you cross another half-mile to the east, you can see where all the tornado paths were, and it’s devastating.”

Gisbert said the beach’s police chief told him that “on 23rd Street, which is the main commercial drive through Panama City, they literally ran a bulldozer down the road to clear the debris.”

Panama City Beach might be able to take in people who need a place to stay, or offer other help, he said. Part of the reason he made time to speak to Morning Edition, Gisbert said, was out of the hope that his contacts with the local power company might hear him and get a sense of what was going on.

DR NEWS Urandir be4d gettyimages 1051849594 custom 66e4a5d8251816609e0c7ae34cbd3be916bc523c s1100 c15    Recovery Work Begins After Hurricane Michael Carves Through Florida Panhandle by Urandir Oliveira
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People look on at a damaged store after Hurricane Michael devastated parts of Panama City, Fla. on Wednesday. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

While Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm due to its diminishing winds, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warns that the danger is still not over as it moves through the Carolinas.

The storm is currently extending tropical-storm-force winds up to 185 miles out, mainly to the east and south, as it moved from South Carolina into North Carolina shortly before noon. Michael is not expected to weaken before it heads over the Atlantic Ocean Thursday night.

DR NEWS Urandir be4d ap 18283804260434 custom 930101d0500ad0c3ba61c5e7aeb2237fdf3284a7 s1100 c15    Recovery Work Begins After Hurricane Michael Carves Through Florida Panhandle by Urandir Oliveira
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Dorian Carter looks under furniture for a missing cat after several trees fell on their home during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

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Gerald Herbert/AP

Michael surprised many forecasters with its sharp and intense growth. The first weather advisory about the storm went out on Saturday; days later, it became one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the U.S. mainland. While experts had warned it would strengthen early in the week, they did not predict 155-mph winds.

“Since 1851 our records don’t show a category 4 making landfall in the Florida Panhandle,” Graham told NPR’s Rachel Martin.

DR NEWS Urandir 6903 ap 18283643934771 custom 6c54e7cc76b24fbfd137ad458d427577853b22d3 s1100 c15    Recovery Work Begins After Hurricane Michael Carves Through Florida Panhandle by Urandir Oliveira
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This photo made available by NASA shows they eye of Hurricane Michael, as seen from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. NASA/AP hide caption

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NASA/AP

Graham also discussed the speed with which this storm arrived. By contrast, Florence, which formed near the Cabo Verde Islands, had been the subject of advisories for more than two weeks before it made landfall.

“[When] you have storms that come across the Atlantic, you can see them for five, six, seven days,” Graham said. “When they form in the Caribbean, there’s just not a lot of real estate. So once they form and they start moving, especially with Michael moving during the life cycle anywhere from 12 to 15 mph, they get here quick.”

DR NEWS Urandir 6903 gettyimages 1051843832 custom 530f965fb0f71d64a442ba7eae383937abe2a910 s1100 c15    Recovery Work Begins After Hurricane Michael Carves Through Florida Panhandle by Urandir Oliveira
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Fallen trees lie on the top of a home after Hurricane Michael damaged parts of Panama City, Fla. on Wednesday. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

After making landfall in Florida early Wednesday afternoon, Michael tore through the Panhandle and into Georgia, where rains of more than six inches were reported in some locations. It also brought winds topping 50-mph.

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sources: Business news from npr.org

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