Georgia girl killed during hurricane was spending rare night away from home

Hurricane Michael claims 1st victim as it leaves path of destruction in Florida

Less than a week ago, a system in the area south of Mexico and Cuba was just a bunch of wind and rain with no direction - but less than seven days later, it would have a name - Hurricane Michael - and end up being the third most intense storm to strike the United States as its 155 mile per hour winds barreled into the Florida panhandle. "We're trying to get into areas like Mexico Beach, get the teams in to be able to assess damage".

After slamming Florida and lashing Georgia, Michael is now barreling through the storm-weary Carolinas.

The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael came into focus Thursday with rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces, and rescue crews began making their way into the stricken areas in hopes of accounting for hundreds of people who may have stayed behind.

Storm damage is seen after Hurricane Michael October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida.

Michael, the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle since the mid-1800s, immediately left a trail of destruction as it tore down buildings and submerged neighborhoods.

Josh Morgerman, a well-known storm chaser, tweeted, "It's hard to convey in words the scale of the catastrophe in Panama City". The whole city looks like a nuke was dropped on it.

Morgerman has chased some of the most extreme hurricanes and typhoons across the world.

The Gulf of Mexico gave Michael exactly what it needed to bulk up into a monster: The water was 4 to 5 degrees F (2.2 to 2.8 degrees C) warmer than normal, and high-atmosphere winds that can disrupt a hurricane were quiet.

A coroner has identified the 11-year-old girl who was killed as Hurricane Michael blew through south Georgia. Tens of thousands of Floridians had already lost power before landfall as the storm's winds lashed the coast.

Seminole County is in the southwest corner of Georgia. Michael is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 4 to 7 inches from northern SC to northwestern North Carolina, and into south-central to southeast Virginia.

On Wednesday night, Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged that the company would help with recovery and relief efforts. When it landed, its legs crashed through the roof of a neighboring mobile home and hit the girl in the head.

Meanwhile, the Waffle House near Florida State University's campus in Tallahassee was open for business at 12:28 a.m., with lines stretching out the door. It moved so fast that people didn't' have much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

Despite the growing frequency of powerful storms every hurricane season, there has been no attempt by either state or federal officials to create response plans that would ensure that all citizens were evacuated in advance of the storm.

Linda Albrecht, a councilwoman in Mexico Beach, spoke to the network about leaving her home with only a few essential objects. Twisted street signs lay on the ground.

"It feels like a nightmare", she said.

Reporter Peyton LoCicero went on Periscope, an app that allows people to live stream to a public audience from a cellphone, to give updates about the storm. More than 380,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm. She spoke from the parking lot of a wrecked gas station in Walton County, tilting the camera to show the damage around her.

Among those brought to safety were nine people rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of their home in hard-hit Panama City after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said. "The more people that return, it's just going to get in the way".

A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said. Sgt. Angela Hightower did not identify the man but said he had been found at the home in Greensboro around 6 p.m.

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