PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Michael’s pounding waves and winds obliterated row after row of beachfront homes at ground zero on the Florida Panhandle when the epic Category 4 hurricane slammed ashore at midweek. Now recovery is just barely beginning from the catastrophic destruction even as a downgraded Michael spreads high winds, rains and flash flooding misery as far away as Virginia.
At least three deaths have been blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years.
By early Friday it wasn’t nearly over yet: a tropical storm long after Wednesday’s landfall, Michael stubbornly kept up its punch while barreling over land toward an expected exit across the open Atlantic. Forecasters say the storm has already begun shedding its tropical characteristics but will take on a new chapter as a powerful extratropical storm with gale force winds on its trek out to sea.