Hurricane Michael, now a tropical storm threatening flash flooding in Virginia and North Carolina plus tornadoes farther south, was not oversold. If anything, hurricane forecasters and locals were taken by surprise at the speed with which Michael exploded into a Category 4 hurricane — at one point it was just 1 mph below Category 5 status — and its ability to maintain hurricane strength as it rolled over the Florida Panhandle and into Georgia.
"There is simply no precedent for a storm this strong striking this part of Florida," says Dennis Mersereau at Popular Science. It's among the four most powerful hurricanes to hit the U.S.
At least six people were killed in the storm, and search-and-rescue teams are checking the wreckage for survivors. The small Florida town Mexico Beach, where Michael made landfall, was almost completely obliterated. Panama City and Springfield are full of roofless buildings and twisted metal. Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City, is closed after suffering "catastrophic" damage in the winds and storm surge. Dan Simon, a first responder from Louisiana, told CBS News on Thursday that what Michael did to Mexico Beach "is what Katrina did to New Orleans, especially the Lower Ninth Ward."
"What we're standing in right now is what Katrina did to New Orleans, especially the Lower Ninth Ward," one rescue worker from Louisiana tells @OmarVillafranca https://t.co/sq8i7W8wsu pic.twitter.com/XOE7wlmRmY
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) October 12, 2018
There was also lots of war imagery thrown about. "This one just looks like a bomb dropped," Clyde Cain, a search-and-rescue volunteer with the Louisiana Cajun Navy, told The Washington Post. Florida Department of Transportation worker Curtis Locus added that "everything along the coastline was devastated like a war zone." The area "was a community in the middle of the forest," he added. "Now the forest is gone, and so is the community." You get different views of the destruction in the reports from ABC News and NBC News below. Peter Weber