Widespread catastrophic damage in Florida | Lexington Herald Leader — WHAT’S HAPPENING

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Three days after the devastating passage of Hurricane Michael, search teams in Florida pressed their hunt for victims into hard-to-reach areas Saturday, as the death toll rose to 17 and officials scrambled to deliver aid to those who lost everything. And the threat continues overnight.

The storm was the third strongest to hit the United States mainland in recorded history after making landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 colossus with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour - just 2 miles per hour short of iconic Category 5 status. Other than frequent warnings to evacuate the area immediately, Governor Scott, like his counterparts in other states, offered no assistance to residents in the path of the storm. So far, Coast Guard crews in Florida have rescued 40 people and assisted 232.

Forecasters say storm flooding is still occurring along the Florida Gulf Coast after Michael crashed ashore Wednesday afternoon as a fierce storm with 155 miles per hour winds. A councilwoman from there issued an urgent plea to anyone thinking of returning.

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.

Moreover, gale to storm-force winds are expected over portions of southeastern Virginia, northeastern North Carolina, and the Delmarva Peninsula late Thursday or early Friday. Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina reported hundreds of thousands more outages.

As the storm charged north, it spun off possible tornadoes and downed power lines and trees in Georgia.

The state mental hospital in Chattahoochee, which has a section for the criminally insane, was cut off by land, and food and supplies were being flown in, authorities said.

Michael was the first Category 4 storm on record to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle.

In Roberta, in Crawford County, Hill Bentley said he saw spinning clouds that looked like a tornado Wednesday.

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When Boutwell returned to his own house, he discovered furniture in his house that wasn't his.

The base's Facebook page announced the news on Wednesday night and said the full extent of the damage isn't know, but they will "conduct initial damage assessments when it is safe to do so". All the stores, all the restaurants, everything.

She chokes up talking about it. I kept calling back and eventually the calls started going straight to voicemail.

Homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael are shown in this aerial photo in Mexico Beach, Fla, on October 11, 2018.

This time, the Panama City school was ripped apart by Michael.

Principal Britt Smith choked up as he looked at images of the decimated building.

"Resiliency is important, and it's an important life message that we all have to learn".

Emergency responders weren't able to reach the home until after midnight because power lines and trees blocked the roads.

Travis Brooks, Director of Seminole County's emergency management agency, told ABC News there was "complete and total devastation".

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The county coroner identified the girl as 11-year-old Sarah Radney.

She loved to spend time with family, her father added. A falling tree also killed one man in Iredell County, North Carolina.

Wednesday evening, officials set up curfews across the Florida Panhandle not only because of the damage and power outages but to prevent looters. No one has heard from them since Wednesday afternoon. About 5 p.m., her brother called a friend and said the house was getting cracks on the wall and the sliding glass doors were blowing in and starting to break.

A survey of the area shows signs tossed, trees snapped, and damage to several businesses and homes. "I'm hoping his phone is just dead and not worse", she said. The core of Michael will move across eastern Georgia into Central South Carolina on Thursday morning.

The center also warned that tropical storm conditions occurring over central and southeastern Georgia will spread across eastern Georgia and southern SC in the morning, and also northwards along the southeast coast.

In southwestern Virginia, Emily Waddell said the water level in a creek near her property in Simpsons already surpassed what it experienced during Florence.

"We didn't expect it to get this bad", she told CNN via Instagram.

Michael isn't the only storm gaining strength in the tropics.

Human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere create an energy imbalance, with more than 90% of remaining heat trapped by the gases going into the oceans, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Other parts of Georgia also were hit hard by the storm.

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