Threatening Hurricane Michael takes aim

Hurricane Michael to hit Florida, but will there be any Maine impact?

In Florida "life-threatening" storm surge of up to 14 feet was forecast, though the National Hurricane Center said water levels are beginning to recede in some locations. But civilians don't have to follow orders, and authorities feared many failed to heed their calls to get out of the way as the hard-charging storm intensified over 84-degree Gulf of Mexico water.

An estimated 6,000 people evacuated to emergency shelters, mostly in Florida, and that number was expected to swell to 20,000 across five states by week's end, said Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross.

By Tuesday morning, Michael had strengthened into a Category 2 storm with 100 miles per hour winds.

The weather service said the core of Michael would move across southwestern and central Georgia through the evening before heading northeastward across the Southeast through late Thursday and then off the Mid-Atlantic coast by early Friday. Storm surge warnings were also in place along the Florida and Alabama coasts.

He said the storm would still have hurricane-force winds as it pushed through Florida into Georgia and tropical storm-force winds when it reaches the Carolinas, which are still reeling from post-Florence flooding.

The two people killed in the storm were a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said.

While Florence wrung itself out for days and brought ruinous rains, fast-moving Michael is likely to be more about wind and storm surge. Facilities to receive evacuation aid so far include Franklin Correctional Institution Work Camp, Gulf Forestry Camp, Panama City Community Release Center, Pensacola Community Release Center, Shisa House West and Tallahassee Community Release Center.

Damage in Panama City near where Michael came ashore Wednesday afternoon was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay almost everywhere.

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"It's our first storm (forecast) to be on top of us", Mollie Williams, a 17-year resident, said warily.

In Florida, 54 shelters are open with a population of almost 6,700 people. "She's my baby", a distraught O'Brien said, her face wet with tears. While glad to have a safe place to ride out the storm, she wasn't happy that her home county couldn't provide shelter.

Long said several hospitals in the Panhandle were hit by the hurricane and patients had to be evacuated.

Sheriff A.J. Smith in Franklin County, near the vulnerable coast, sent his deputies door to door urging people to evacuate. "If you've been around town, you've seen all the trees that are down, all the roads that are blocked downtown the flooding", Smith said. The storm could leave wide swaths of the region powerless for weeks, he said. "So certainly, donating here in St. Louis could help out in that case", said Watson.

In Panama City, plywood and metal flew off the front of a Holiday Inn Express. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, D, declared the second statewide state of emergency in as many months. Tropical storm warnings and storm surge watches were issued for parts of the coast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Peter Macias, a spokesman for the Red Cross, said about 4,000 people entered almost 70 evacuation centers across the Florida Panhandle and Alabama overnight. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, R, closed state offices and buildings in more than a dozen counties.

"It's going to get worse pretty fast here", said Scott, before making similar comments in appearances on "Fox & Friends" and "CBS This Morning".

The coming storm has also prompted state officials to extend the deadline to register to vote. Asked to confirm whether all prisons in mandatory evacuation zones have been evacuated, Debbie Jones, an administrator at the Florida Department of Corrections, said, "All necessary preparations have been made by the Department".

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