Hurricane Michael Leaves 500,000 People Without Power Wednesday

Powered by unseasonably warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, a raging Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday. It’s the most powerful storm the Florida panhandle has ever experienced, the BBC reports.

At least one Florida man is dead, killed by a tree that fell on his home.

“We are catching some hell,” said one Panama City resident who did not obey Gov. Rick Scott’s evacuation order. Some 370,000 Florida residents were told to get out of the path of the storm, but many did not. They were told to shelter in place when the storm hit Wednesday. Now, they are without power.

This is the third most powerful storm to ever hit the U.S., topped only by hurricanes in 1969 and 1935. Storm records date back to 1851.

Florida was devastated by the storm in mere minutes. “It looks like a bomb went off on every single block,” said Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL), as reported by CNN.

As it headed into south-central Georgia around 11 p.m. EST, Hurricane Michael had started to weaken. Downgraded to a Category 1 storm with winds raging at 75 mph, Michael is expected to continue ripping through the southeast until it moves off the Mid-Atlantic coast, according to NPR.

Michael is predicted to continue to weaken, and become a tropical storm, as it moves into east-central Georgia. The storm should reach this point by Thursday morning.

Even at weaker strengths, Hurricane Michael will dump massive amounts of rain on Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Flooding could potentially be fatal.

“This was a small storm…And it grew into a monster,” said Donald Trump Wednesday.

“We’re seeing stronger storms because the sea surface temperature — the ocean water — is so much warmer,” says Angela Fritz of the Washington Post.

Now, half a million people are in the dark across three states. Even before the hurricane made landfall, around 30,000 Florida residents had lost power. It’s just one small part of Hurricane Michael’s aftermath.

Images from Florida show businesses and entire neighborhoods submerged by storm waters and ripped apart by 155 mph winds. Whole buildings are reduced to shreds of wood. One meteorologist said, “All I can see is devastation,” ABC News reports.

Powerful Twitter videos show trees being uprooted whole, roofs being blown off buildings, and entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble. Once the dust begins to settle, more extensive damage reports should become available for all states touched by Hurricane Michael.