Hurricane Michael causes ‘unimaginable destruction’ in the US

More than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas are without power in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm, which is the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental US in over 50 years.

Michael has continued up the America’s southeast, dumping heavy rains and spreading flash flooding misery as far away as Virginia.

High winds, downed trees, streets inundated by rising waters and multiple rescues of motorists from waterlogged cars played out around Virginia and neighbouring North Carolina.

In North Carolina’s mountains, motorists had to be rescued from cars trapped by high water. High winds toppled trees and power lines.

Flash flooding was also reported in the big North Carolina cities of Charlotte and Raleigh. Similar scenes played out in parts of Virginia as the storm raced seawards.

Boats lay among the debris from homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael (Chris O’Meara/AP)

Meanwhile, thousands of National Guard troops, law enforcement officers and rescue teams still had much to do in the hardest hit area: Florida’s Panhandle.

Families living along the Panhandle are now faced with a struggle to survive in a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centres, the storm debris spread far and wide.

In one community, Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around.

Aluminium siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees. Hundreds of cars had broken windows.

The hurricane damaged hospitals and nursing homes in Panama City, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients.

Florida governor Rick Scott, called it “unimaginable destruction” and said: “So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything.”

A man outside Tallahassee, Florida, was killed by a falling tree and was the first of “four storm-related fatalities” announced by the Gadsden County Sheriff’s office.

An 11-year-old girl in Georgia died when Michael’s winds dropped debris through the roof of her grandparents’ home.

A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his car.

Then, as Michael blew through Virginia as a tropical storm, authorities said five people there were killed, including four who drowned and a firefighter whose truck was struck by a tractor-trailer as he responded to an accident in heavy storm conditions.

Some fear the toll can only rise as rescue teams get around storm debris blocking roads and reach isolated areas.

- Press Association

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