Connect with us
[the_ad id="89560"]

Top Story CP

‘Catching some hell’: Hurricane Michael slams into Florida

Published

10 minute read

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighbourhoods. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years.

Its winds shrieking, the Category 4 storm crashed ashore in the early afternoon near Mexico Beach, a tourist town about midway along the Panhandle, a lightly populated, 200-mile stretch of white-sand beach resorts, fishing towns and military bases.

Michael battered the shoreline with sideways rain, powerful gusts and crashing waves, swamping streets and docks, flattening trees, stripped away leaves, shredding awnings and peeling away shingles. It also set off transformer explosions and knocked out power to more than 190,000 homes and businesses.

“We are catching some hell,” said Timothy Thomas, who rode out the storm with his wife in their second-floor apartment in Panama City Beach.

With the hurricane still pounding the state hours after it came ashore, and conditions too dangerous in places for search-and-rescue teams to go out, there were no immediate reports of any deaths or serious injuries.

Michael was a meteorological brute that sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore. 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 unusually warm, 84-degree Gulf waters — became more menacing.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were urged to evacuate as Michael closed in. But the fast-moving, fast-strengthening storm didn’t give people much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

“While it might be their constitutional right to be an idiot, it’s not their right to endanger everyone else!” Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson tweeted.

Diane Farris, 57, and her son walked to a high school-turned-shelter near their home in Panama City to find about 1,100 people crammed into a space meant for about half as many. Neither she nor her son had any way to communicate because their lone cellphone got wet and quit working.

“I’m worried about my daughter and grandbaby. I don’t know where they are. You know, that’s hard,” she said, choking back tears.

Hurricane-force winds extended up to 45 miles (75 kilometres) from Michael’s centre. Forecasters said rainfall could reach up to a foot (30 centimetres), and the life-threatening storm surge could swell to 14 feet (4 metres).

A water-level station in Apalachicola, close to where Michael came ashore, reported a surge of nearly 8 feet (2.5 metres).

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 mph, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

It appeared to be so powerful that it was expected to remain a hurricane as it moved into Alabama and Georgia early Thursday. Forecasters said it will unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence’s epic flooding.

At the White House, President Donald Trump said the government is “absolutely ready for the storm.” ”God bless everyone because it’s going to be a rough one,” he said. “A very dangerous one.”

In Mexico Beach, population 1,000, the storm shattered homes, leaving floating piles of lumber. The lead-grey water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes.

In Panama City, plywood and metal flew off the front of a Holiday Inn Express. Part of the awning fell and shattered the glass front door of the hotel, and the rest of the awning wound up on vehicles parked below it.

“Oh my God, what are we seeing?” said evacuee Rachel Franklin, her mouth hanging open.

The hotel swimming pool had whitecaps, and people’s ears popped because of the drop in barometric pressure. The roar from the hurricane sounded like an airplane taking off.

Meteorologists watched satellite imagery in complete awe as the storm intensified.

“We are in new territory,” National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. “The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle.”

Colorado State University hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach said in an email: “I really fear for what things are going to look like there tomorrow at this time.”

The storm is likely to fire up the debate over global warming.

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires. But without extensive study, they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.

With Election Day less than a month away, the crisis was seen as a test of leadership for Scott, a Republican running for the Senate, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum , the Democratic nominee for governor. Just as Northern politicians are judged on how they handle snowstorms, their Southern counterparts are watched closely for how they deal with hurricanes.

Thousands of evacuees sought shelter in Tallahassee, which is about 25 miles from the coast but is covered by live oak and pine trees that can fall and cause power outages even in smaller storms.

As winds started to topple trees in Tallahassee, one of them landed on Joe Marino’s chimney.

“It was like an earthquake. The bookshelf shook and a frame fell down,” he said. “It was weird. We went outside and you could smell the pine, and there it was, laying on the chimney.”

Marino, who lives with his girlfriend and her grandmother, said water started dripping through the chimney, and they feared the wind would send the tree crashing through the roof. They planned to stay on the first floor.

“Upstairs is a no-go zone,” he said.

Only a skeleton staff remained at Tyndall Air Force Base, situated on a peninsula just south of Panama City. Hundreds of military families were moved out, and the base’s aircraft, which include F-22 Raptors, were flown to safety hundreds of miles away.

In St. Marks, John Hargan and his family gathered up their pets and moved to a raised building constructed to withstand a Category 5 after water from the St. Marks River began surrounding their home.

Hargan’s 11-year-old son, Jayden, carried one of the family’s dogs in a laundry basket in one arm and held a skateboard in the other as he waded through calf-high water.

Hargan, a bartender at a riverfront restaurant, feared he would lose his home and his job to the storm.

“We basically just walked away from everything and said goodbye to it,” he said, tears welling up. “I’m freakin’ scared I’m going to lose everything I own, man.”

___

Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Fla.; Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Brendan Farrington in St. Marks, Fla.; Russ Bynum in Keaton Beach, Fla.; Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Md., contributed to this story.

___

For the latest on Hurricane Michael, visithttps://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

Jay Reeves And Brendan Farrington, The Associated Press





























Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

Follow Author

Top Story CP

Trump endorses SC’s Tim Scott in 2022 Senate reelection bid

Published on

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former President Donald Trump endorsed U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s 2022 reelection bid Tuesday, continuing to make clear his intent to remain a dominant force in Republican Party politics.

Trump issued a statement through his Save America PAC, saying Scott had his “Complete and Total Endorsement” and complimenting Scott’s work on behalf of the military, law enforcement and veterans.

The only Black Republican in the Senate and one of its three Black members, Scott previously served one term in the U.S. House and has been in the Senate since then-Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him in late 2012 to succeed Jim DeMint.

Elected to his first full term in 2016, Scott has said that the 2022 Senate race would be his last. Scott has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, and his name appeared in the results of a straw poll conducted at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

In the Senate, Scott often aligned with Trump, voting with him nearly 91% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Trump is fresh off his weekend appearance at CPAC, where he was hailed as a returning hero. In his speech, Trump called for GOP unity, even as he exacerbated intraparty divisions by attacking fellow Republicans and continuing to repeat false claims about winning the election.

“Do you miss me yet?” Trump said after taking the stage to music from his old campaign rally soundtrack and cheers from the supportive crowd.

Leading up to the the normally mundane congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Jan. 6, Scott was among the Senate Republicans who spoke out against Trump’s statements that the Senate could have legally undone that process, saying he found “no constitutionally viable means” to do so.

Hours after the deadly U.S. Capitol assault that halted those certification proceedings, Scott proposed a commission aimed at studying the 2020 election, suggesting that some pandemic-related election changes resulted in “missteps – intentional or not” meriting further examination.

Of the proposal, Scott’s fellow South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest congressional allies, called it a “uniquely bad idea to delay this election,” affirming that Biden is the “legitimate president of the United States.”

On Twitter, Graham said Tuesday he appreciated Trump “coming out early and strong in support of my good friend,” calling Scott “one of the most talented people I have ever known.”

Scott, however, took a more muted approach, not commenting directly, but rather through his campaign. It issued a statement saying Scott was “honoured” by the endorsement and pointed to areas of policy where Scott and the former president align.

___

Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press


Continue Reading

Top Story CP

Budget nominee Tanden withdraws nomination amid opposition

Published on

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has withdrawn her nomination after she faced opposition from key Democratic and Republican senators for her controversial tweets.

Her withdrawal marks the first high-profile defeat of one of Biden’s nominees. Eleven of the 23 Cabinet nominees requiring Senate approval have been confirmed, most with strong bipartisan support.

“Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities,” Tanden wrote in a letter to Biden. The president, in a statement, said he has “utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel” and pledged to find her another role in his administration.

Tanden’s viability was in doubt after Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and a number of moderate Republicans came out against her last month, all citing her tweets attacking members of both parties prior to her nomination.

Manchin, a key moderate swing vote in the Senate, said last month in a statement announcing his opposition that “her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.” Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, meanwhile, cited Biden’s own standard of conduct in opposing Tanden, declaring in a statement that “her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.”

Tanden needed just 51 votes in an evenly-divided Senate, with Vice-President Kamala Harris acting as a tiebreaker. But without Manchin’s support, the White House was left scrambling to find a Republican to support her.

One potential Republican vote, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, told reporters earlier Tuesday on Capitol Hill she still had not yet made up her mind on Tanden’s nomination.

The White House stuck with her even after a number of centrist Republicans made their opposition known, insisting her experience growing up on welfare and background working on progressive policies as the president and CEO of the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress made her the right candidate for the moment. White House chief of staff Ron Klain initially insisted the administration was “fighting our guts out” for her.

Tanden faced pointed questions over her past comments about members from both parties during her confirmation hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and prominent progressive lawmaker, accused her of issuing “vicious attacks” against progressives, and hadn’t said whether he’d support her nomination.

Tanden apologized during that hearing to “people on either the left or right who are hurt by what I’ve said.” Just prior to the hearing, she deleted hundreds of tweets, many of which were critical of Republicans.

Collins cited those deleted tweets in her statement, saying that the move “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.” She said Congress “has to be able to trust the OMB director to make countless decisions in an impartial manner, carrying out the letter of the law and congressional intent.”

As recently as Monday, the White House indicated it was sticking by Tanden’s nomination, with press secretary Jen Psaki noting Tanden’s “decades of experience” in defending their pick.

“We will continue of course to fight for the confirmation of every nominee that the president puts forward,” Psaki insisted, but she added, “We’ll see if we have 50 votes.”

The head of the Office of Management and Budget is tasked with putting together the administration’s budget, as well as overseeing a wide range of logistical and regulatory issues across the federal government.

Tanden’s withdrawal leaves the Biden administration without a clear replacement. The apparent front-runner on Capitol Hill to replace Tanden was Shalanda Young, a former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee who has been actively pushed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Other names mentioned include Ann O’Leary, a former chief of staff for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Gene Sperling, who served as a top economic adviser to both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press

Continue Reading

Trending

X