Hurricane Michael

Final Flight Into Hurricane Michael Captured Rare Data On How Storms Intensify

Nov 29, 2018
Master Sgt. Jessica Kendziorek / U.S. Air Force

Shortly before noon on October 10, Lt. Col. Sean Cross and Maj. Dave Gentile, pilots with the U.S. Air Force Reserve, turned the nose of their WC-130J “Hurricane Hunter” toward the core of Hurricane Michael as it bore down on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

About 150 Florida Hurricane Victims Voted By Email. That’s Not Allowed.

Nov 12, 2018
News Herald/AP via Miami Herald

After Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle in October, the top elections official in Bay County allowed about 150 displaced voters to cast ballots by email, even though there is no provision that allows for it in state law.

Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen defended that decision vigorously Monday, noting the mass devastation that rocked the coastal county one month ago.

Hurricane Michael has damaged and destroyed thousands of homes and apartments in the panhandle and what’s left isn’t enough to meet the demand. Now FEMA is offering up its “FEMA Trailers” to help address the need.

Two U.S. senators and three congressmen are asking federal officials to bring recreational vehicles and mobile homes to the Florida Panhandle to help residents who lost their homes to Hurricane Michael.

As Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen walks around the second floor of his office in Panama City, Fla., he points up at a makeshift ceiling of tarp and plywood.

"From that wall right there, all the way over, all the wood there, that all just got put on," he says.

Andersen is the supervisor of elections for Bay County, Fla., the county most ravaged earlier this month by Hurricane Michael. Andersen was in the elections office two weeks ago, one floor below this spot, when 130-mile-an-hour winds ripped off the building's roof.

Already sick with strep throat and asthma, Aleeah Racette got sicker when she cleaned out a soggy, moldy home after Hurricane Michael, so she sought help at the hospital where she began life. She was stunned by what she saw there.

More than a week after Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida panhandle, cities and towns are facing the daunting task of trying to rebuild. The recovery is hampered by catastrophic damage not only to homes and businesses, but to vital infrastructure as well.

The small Gulf coast town of Port St. Joe, with a population of about 3,500 residents, is one of countless communities that was hit by the storm.

"Everywhere you turn and go you see some kind of destruction," says the town's mayor, Bo Patterson. "Whether it was wind damage, whether it was water, one of the two."

Getty images via Miami Herald

In the hyper data world of hurricane forecasting, where history is written in millibars and miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center’s 168-year record of Atlantic storms stands as an invaluable index to meteorologists, the insurance industry, government planning departments and, of course, weather geeks.

What’s less known: It gets tweaked a lot.

Hurricane Michael Insurance Claims Quickly Pile Up

Oct 19, 2018
Doug Engle / Associated Press

Within a week of Hurricane Michael barreling into Northwest Florida, nearly 70,000 insurance claims had been filed, with estimated insured losses of $680.7 million, according to data posted online by the state Office of Insurance Regulation.

Insurers reported 69,950 claims as of 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, almost exactly a week after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach with 155 mph maximum sustained winds.

The storm caused widespread damage in the Panhandle and the state’s Big Bend before continuing into Georgia.

Post-Michael Florida: Fear, Frustration And Life On The Edge For Survivors

Oct 19, 2018
Associated Press

Missing relatives and worries that looters are just outside the door. Dirty clothes. Hours-long lines for gasoline, insurance adjusters, food and water. No power, no air conditioning, no schools, no information and little real improvement in sight.

Daily life is a series of fears and frustrations, both large and small, for thousands of people living on the edge, more than a week after Hurricane Michael flattened thousands of square miles in the hurricane zone of the Florida Panhandle.

Brock Long was frustrated. Yet again, the FEMA administrator said, people in the path of a powerful hurricane had ignored evacuation orders.

Hurricane Michael had leveled the small Florida city of Mexico Beach and destroyed large parts of nearby Panama City. The death count was rising as search and rescue workers pulled bodies from the rubble.

Election supervisors in the panhandle are scrambling to get back up and running ahead of election Day. In some places, that means having only a handful of so-called “super-voting” sites available. 

In Mexico Beach, Fla., Lance Erwin is one of the lucky ones. His house is still standing. He stayed in his home during Hurricane Michael, several blocks from the beach, in a part of his house that he calls his "safe room."

"The garage door was shaking," he says. "I knew the roof was gone at that point because everything was shaking. I thought, 'Just hang in there.' I had faith everything was going to be OK."

Updated at 8:23 p.m. ET

Florida residents still trying to piece together their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael are missing one much needed tool: reliable cellphone service.

Amid reports of ongoing and widespread outages, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, is calling for an investigation of the problem. He is also calling for wireless carriers to waive October bills of Florida customers in areas hit by the hurricane.

Courtesy / Telemundo

In the days leading up to Hurricane Michael’s landfall, Gov. Rick Scott did what any Florida governor would do: warn people. After the storm passed, Scott shifted from warnings to gravitas.

But his appearances were more significant than previous storm responses (Michael is the fourth hurricane Scott has had to respond to in his eight years as governor). 

With elections just under three weeks away in Florida, candidates – especially those for governor and U.S. Senate – know that voters could cast their ballots based on how candidates responded to the storm.

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