HURRICANE MICHAEL: Evacuees watch storm hit home from Troy

Published 1:36 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, at approximately 12:30 pm. Wednesday as an unprecedented category 4 storm, one of the strongest storms to ever hit the U.S.

Steve and Linda Hougland watched news coverage of Michael’s landfall intently Wednesday at the Hampton Inn in Troy. The storm was just hitting the shore near their Panama City condo.

“We were watching the Weather Channel Monday morning and saw Jim Cantore a mile and a half from our condo and we knew it was time to get out of there,” Steve said. “Our condo is on the first floor and it’s just across the street from the water, maybe a couple hundred yards.”

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The couple was one of many evacuees huddled around televisions or standing around local hotel lobbies discussing the storm.

As the storm now begins tracking across land, Reeves said emergency responders and utility crews across the county are on standby to restore power, remove fallen trees and assist in any emergency situations arising due to the storm.

Officials with South Alabama Electric Cooperative (SAEC) said they are prepared to respond to outages in the area.

“The current track of the storm does not indicate a direct threat to our area, but we do expect
severe weather,” SAEC General Manager David Bailey says. “Outages may occur, and if
necessary our cooperative has prepared to restore power as quickly as possible.”

The storm is projected to make landfall on the Florida Gulf Coast near midday on Wednesday.
Please remain weather-aware at all times. SAEC values your safety.

“As always, your patience is greatly appreciated. Hurricane Michael is a dangerous storm
capable of doing damage even in areas, such as ours, that are expected to be outside the direct
path,” Bailey says.

The meteorological brute quickly sprang from a weekend tropical depression, becoming a furious Category 4 by early Wednesday, up from a Category 2 less than a day earlier. It was the most powerful hurricane on record to hit the Panhandle.

“I’ve had to take antacids I’m so sick to my stomach today because of this impending catastrophe,” National Hurricane Center scientist Eric Blake tweeted as the storm — drawing energy from the Gulf’s unusually warm, 84-degree water — grew more scary.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the most powerful hurricane to blow ashore on the U.S. mainland since Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind Andrew in 1992, Camille, and the biggest one of all, an unnamed 1935 Labor Day storm that had winds of 184 mph (296 kph).

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were urged to evacuate as Michael closed in. But emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.