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Michael Crosses Into Georgia

Wednesday, October 10, 2018
AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

PANAMA CITY, Florida (AP) — The National Hurricane Center says Michael's eye has crossed from the Florida Panhandle into southwestern Georgia as a dangerous Category 3 storm, the strongest to hit that part of the state in recorded history.

Maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) were recorded in Seminole County, Georgia, Wednesday evening. The storm made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane earlier Wednesday afternoon.

According to a 6 p.m. advisory, the storm was located 20 miles (32 kilometers) west-northwest of Bainbridge, Georgia, and 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Albany, Georgia. It was moving north-northeast at 13 mph (21 kph).

Dangerous storm surge continues along the coast of the Florida Panhandle.

Hurricane Michael downed trees and power lines as it began its push inland.

The Houston County Emergency Management Agency in Alabama told people to stay off the roads. "Trees are down, blocking roads, some roads are flooded and blocked. It is NOT safe to be on the road at this time!" the agency tweeted. The Alabama Emergency Management Agency said that almost 3,000 people were without power in the state as of shortly after 3 p.m.Some southeastern Alabama cities and counties instituted mandatory curfews to try to keep people at home.

Louisiana is sending dozens of emergency personnel, along with boats, ambulances and other equipment to Florida to help with the response to Hurricane Michael.

The state emergency preparedness office announced the assistance Wednesday, shortly before the storm roared ashore.

The emergency workers include ambulance teams coordinated by the Louisiana health department, search-and-rescue workers from the fire marshal's office, firefighters, medics and a helicopter team from the Louisiana National Guard. The assistance, for which Louisiana will be reimbursed, is coordinated through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact system.

Meanwhile, Entergy says its Louisiana subsidiaries are sending 170 employees and contractors to help Florida restore power lost due to Michael. Florida's state government reports says there are at least 191,000 homes and businesses without power because of the storm.

One of the country's largest state fairs is delaying its start as the remnants of Hurricane Michael pass through North Carolina.

North Carolina State Fair manager Kent Yelverton said Wednesday the event won't open as planned on Thursday. Yelverton says the fair will instead open Friday morning and run for 10 days instead of 11.

State Agriculture Department spokeswoman Andrea Ashby said forecasts of heavy rain and high winds led to the decision.

Michael came ashore in Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane. It is expected to pack wind gusts of 35 mph (55 kph) or more and dump several inches of rain in North Carolina.

Ashby said the fairgrounds will remain closed to the general public Thursday, though vendors and others with businesses to run will be admitted.

A Red Cross official says it's possible that as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast did not evacuate and are likely riding out the storm.

Evacuation orders were sent by state and local officials to about 325,000 people. Emergency managers say they don't know how many left the area, but there were about 6,000 people in 80 shelters in five states, including nearly 1,200 who are still in shelters following Hurricane Florence.

Michael went from a tropical storm to a projected Category 3 hurricane in around six hours and could have caught thousands off guard.

Brad Kieserman is the Vice President of Operations and Logistics for the American Red Cross. He says the storm "intensified extremely quickly and didn't give anyone enough time to do much."