Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Hurricane Michael brings new threat to Florida's victims: toxic red tide

Hurricane Michael brings new threat to Florida's victims: toxic red tide

Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Florida Panhandle to reach trapped people in Michael's wake Thursday after the third-most powerful hurricane on record to hit the continental US carved a path of destruction across the Southeast.

Search and rescue teams combed through shattered USA communities on Thursday looking for victims of Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 monster storm which carved out a swathe of destruction in the Florida Panhandle, killing at least six in three states.

They said it was still not clear how many people stayed put and would need to be rescued.

The storm surge of up to 14ft then sent Gulf of Mexico waters crashing over the coastal communities of the Florida Panhandle and far inland.

Photos and videos of the destruction already show just how "monstrous" Michael really was.

The storm mangled buildings, toppled trees and covered roads in water.

The level of outages following Michael are similar to when Hurricane Irma struck Florida a year ago.

In Panama City, 20 miles northwest of Mexico Beach, buildings were crushed and boats were scattered around.

Reporters had to make their way through roads clogged by downed trees and power lines.

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Florida officials said more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Florida and Governor Scott said almost 20,000 utility workers had been deployed to restore power. Only first responders were allowed in and an 8pm curfew was imposed.

"I think everything from Panama City down to Mexico Beach is way worse than anybody ever anticipated", Florida Governor Rick Scott told the Weather Channel.

About 359,000 customers in Florida were in the dark early Thursday, according to the state's emergency management agency.

Over Georgia, Michael will dump up to seven inches of rain as it continues on its path over the southeastern US.

Twenty miles (32km) south of Mexico Beach, floodwaters were more than 7 feet (2.1 meters) deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane center chief Ken Graham said. Wind damage was also evident.

Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson said: "There are so many downed power lines and trees that it's nearly impossible to get through the city".

Brad Rippey, a meteorologist for the US Agriculture Department, said Michael severely damaged cotton, timber, pecans and peanuts, causing estimated liabilities as high as $1.9bn and affecting up to 1.5 million hectares.

The third-most powerful hurricane to hit the US mainland in recorded history left a wide path of destruction across Florida and Georgia, destroying homes and shopping centres and knocking down trees, killing at least two people.

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