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"Top focus is search and rescue": FL governor

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on October 11, 2018 - Duration: 01:17s

"Top focus is search and rescue": FL governor

Florida Governor Rick Scott says Hurricane Michael was an 'absolute monster' and the state is still trying to access the damage left in its wake.

Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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"Top focus is search and rescue": FL governor

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Tropical Storm Michael took its drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas on Thursday after devastating Florida's Panhandle, killing at least two people, reducing homes to rubble and ripping up power lines and tree.

Michael crashed ashore on Wednesday near the small town of Mexico Beach as the third most powerful hurricane ever to strike the U.S. mainland, carrying winds of up to 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour) and causing deep seawater flooding.

In large areas of Mexico Beach, homes were obliterated or reduced to stacks of rubble, aerial video from CNN showed on Thursday.

Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, called the town "ground zero" for the hurricane damage.

One objective as recovery got under way was to help people who could be trapped in various areas along the coast, he told a news conference.

In Panama City, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Mexico Beach, buildings were crushed and boats were scattered around.

Michael had left a trail of utility wires on roads, flattened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church.

Al Hancock, 45, who works on a tour boat, survived in Panama City with his wife and dog.

"The roof fell in but we lived through it," he said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott told the Weather Channel the damage from Panama City down to Mexico Beach was "way worse than anybody ever anticipated." It was not yet known what had happened to about 280 residents of Mexico Beach who authorities said had ignored evacuation orders as the storm approached the state's northwest.

The area is known for its small beach towns, wildlife reserves and the state capital, Tallahassee.

Michael was a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale, just shy of a rare Category 5, when it came ashore.

It weakened steadily as it traveled inland over the Panhandle.

By 8 a.m.

EDT (1200 GMT) Thursday it had been downgraded to a tropical storm with 50-mph (85-kph) winds as it pushed through Georgia into the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center said.

Parts of North Carolina and Virginia could get as much as 9 inches (23 cm) of rain and life-threatening flash floods, the NHC said.

The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

The two people killed in the storm were a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said.

Long said several hospitals in the Panhandle were hit by the hurricane and patients had to be evacuated.

More than 830,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Alabama and Georgia early Thursday.

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