Devastation in Florida, flooding elsewhere

 Authorities haven’t seen the mass casualities they once feared from Hurricane Michael, but they expect the death toll to rise as search-and-rescue teams make their way through Florida neighborhoods smashed to pieces . The storm also has brought flash flooding to hurricane-weary parts of the Carolinas and Virginia .
— Hurricane history: first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Florida’s Panhandle since record-keeping began in 1851.
— Top winds: 155 mph (250 kph), strong enough to completely destroy homes and cause weekslong power outages.
— Powerful pressure: 919 millibars minimum pressure in the eye, the third most intense hurricane landfall in the U.S. in recorded history.
— The human cost: A falling tree killed a man in Iredell County, North Carolina; an 11-year-old girl in Seminole County, Georgia, was killed when a carport blew through the roof of her home; four people were killed in Gadsden County, Florida, near Tallahassee; and Virginia had five storm related deaths, including two people who were swept away from their vehicles by floodwaters.
Hurricane Michael all but erased the tiny community of Mexico Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast, reducing some homes to mere concrete slabs and leaving others in shreds.
— Damage estimates: Boston-based Karen Clark & Company, an insurance company that produces models for catastrophes, is estimating Hurricane Michael caused about $8 billion in insured losses. It includes the privately insured wind and storm surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties and automobiles. The figure does not include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.
Images captured by Associated Press journalists show the devastation left in Hurricane Michael’s wake.
One of the hardest-hit spots in Florida is Mexico Beach , where Michael crashed ashore. In a beach town home about 1,200 people, entire blocks of homes have been reduced to nothing but concrete slabs in the sand or piles of splintered lumber.
The number of dead was expected to rise, but authorities scrapped plans for setting up a temporary morgue, indicating they had yet to see signs of mass casualties from the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years.
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Administrator Brock Long warned residents of the hardest hit area not to go back yet. He says it’s still too dangerous in Bay County, Florida, where the hurricane made landfall.
Michael left North Carolina and Virginia behind with rivers rising. Power outages were concentrated in central North Carolina’s Piedmont region, where motorists had to be rescued Thursday from cars trapped by high water. Flashing flooding also was reported in the big North Carolina cities of Charlotte and Raleigh. Similar scenes played out in parts of Virginia as the storm raced seaward.
The commander of Tyndall Air Force Base says the “base took a beating” from Hurricane Michael and that he won’t ask its 3,600 airmen or their families to return until their safety is guaranteed. A special tactics team has cleared a runway at the base, allowing aircraft with supplies and food to land.
The Environmental Protection Agency says there were no reports of oil spills or other hazardous materials, as occurred during Hurricane Harvey last year in Houston and Hurricane Florence last month in the Carolinas. But boil water advisories are in effect in about eight locations impacted by Hurricane Michael.
The parents of an 11-year-old Georgia girl who was killed after being hit in the head by a portable structure that crashed into her grandparents’ home say Sarah Radney “lit up everything.” Roy and Amber Rodney said their daughter loved to perform. The sixth-grader recently was in a school play and started playing trumpet in her school band.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has opened up the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee to state troopers on their way to areas hit hard by Hurricane Michael. Scott and first lady Ann Scott had dinner on Thursday with 50 troopers, 35 of whom slept in cots inside the mansion.
A Florida Senate debate between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott has been postponed because of Hurricane Michael. A CNN statement says the live debate planned for Tuesday night will be rescheduled for a later date.
Broadcast news organizations faced challenges in getting reporters to Mexico Beach, the city hardest hit by the hurricane. Roads were impassable and some reporters had been pulled out of the town in advance of the storm because of safety fears.