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Florida Coast Now 'Devastated Town, USA'

Air Force base suffered 'catastrophic damage'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2018 6:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – The death toll from Hurricane Michael, one of the strongest storms ever to hit the mainland US, now stands at 11, and authorities fear they will find more bodies as they search devastated communities in the Florida Panhandle and elsewhere. NBC News reports that 1.5 million people were without power Thursday night as Michael, now classified as a post-tropical cyclone, gained new strength after moving out over the Atlantic and brought yet more rain to North Carolina. The National Hurricane Center predicts that the storm will move rapidly away from the US over the weekend. More:

  • "Devastated Town, USA." Florida is still tallying the cost of the storm, but it is clear that recovery will take a long time, the Washington Post reports. Entire oceanfront communities on the Gulf Coast have been almost completely destroyed. Florida Department of Transportation worker Curtis Locus says he has never seen anything like it. "This is Party Town, USA. Now it's Devastated Town, USA," he says. "Everything along the coastline was devastated like a war zone."
  • "I've never been so scared in my life." Harrowing stories are emerging from communities including Mexico Beach, which took a direct hit from the storm, the AP reports. Dawn Vickers says the storm ripped her home from its foundations and split it in two. Vickers and her family spent the night sheltering in one waterlogged half. "I've never been so scared in my life," she says. "We were all praying, 'Just please get us through this.' I thought we were going to die."

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  • Psychiatric hospital cut off. CBS reports that Florida's largest psychiatric hospital has been entirely cut off by the storm. Officials say helicopters have been used to drop food and water to Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, which has around 1,000 residents and 300 staff.
  • "Catastrophic damage" at Air Force base. Tyndall Air Force Base, on the shoreline near Mexico Beach, was hit hard by the storm and suffered what the Air Force says was "widespread catastrophic damage," the New York Times reports. Almost all personnel—and aircraft—had been evacuated and there were no injuries reported among the few airmen who stayed behind.
  • "Last night was just hell." Father Roy Radney tells the New York Times that his daughter, 11-year-old Sarah Radney, was killed when the storm blew part of a metal carport into the modular home where she had been staying with her grandparents in southwest Georgia. He says he struggled to hear updates on her condition as cellphone reception worsened. She died around an hour after the debris hit her. It took emergency workers around six hours to reach the home. "Last night was just hell," he says. "I'm an hour and a quarter away, and my daughter's dying, and I can't do anything about it. I can't think of anything that is more related to hell than that."
  • More flash flooding. The storm has caused widespread flash flooding in North Carolina, which was still recovering from Hurricane Florence, the AP reports. Virginia also suffered flooding as the storm moved toward the ocean.
  • How to help. The Pensacola Journal has a list of ways people can help those affected by the hurricane. The Florida Disaster Fund has been activated and is among those taking donations.
(Read more Hurricane Michael stories.)

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