Hurricane Michael downgraded to Category 3

Storm continues to move toward Georgia and the Carolinas.
28:59 | 10/10/18

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Transcript for Hurricane Michael downgraded to Category 3
Live from ABC news this is continuing coverage of hurricane Michael. I'm David Wright with ABC news lives in New York we are bringing you continuing coverage of the devastating impact of hurricane. Michael this is the worst storm that the Florida Panhandle has seen in a century those are the words of governor Rick Scott of Florida the eye of this storm. Made landfall near Mexico beach Florida just before 1 o'clock this afternoon it is now moving inland at a speed of fifteen miles per hour the winds on the leading edge of this storm a 155. Miles an hour as it made landfall they've now slowed. 240. Miles an hour inland but those tropical storm force winds. In this huge storm stretch across an area that's more than 320. Miles wide that is larger than the distance between New York. And Washington DC and this storm. Is now bearing down on other states beyond Florida specifically Macon Georgia which is where we find ABC's Steve Rosen Sami Steve. How are they getting ready for this storm where you. Well their they're telling people here authorities are telling people here that where you eat dinner tonight is where you need to shelter in place to do need to stage. Where you are if you haven't. Left it's time to just. Buckle down and batten down the hatches because they are expecting what could be. A tropical storm or even a cat one possibly a cat two storm. All the way here and Macon Georgia those are two things I never thought I'd ever say together. Macon Georgia which is sort of central Georgia and a hurricane. But that's the reality here we'd just happened to pick this hotel that we're at right now. It's the staging area for Georgia power so I don't think it. I don't know Dave you can see any of these behind me I can there are. Already what looks to be about. I want to say a couple dozen Georgia power trucks. Because that's going to be the real issue offer for families here is they're expecting the power to go out already were talking about. Many many people in Florida who have lost power. That situation is only going to increase tonight as the storm moves into Georgia and the Carolinas. Not to put this in perspective David. A year ago hurricane Burma came through this same area. And authorities tell me that they had 55000 people in this county alone who lost power. And they had to move a 100000. Cubic yards of debris they are expecting. That much or more tonight David. Well we imagine that a lot of people lost power in Florida the figures there were still getting in but the estimates run into the hundreds of thousands. Gulf Power One of several utilities in the area. Says that a 1161000. Of its customers are without power and Duke Energy Florida. Projects that up to 200000. Of their customers will have lost power that number expected to increase. Look at the strength of those wins as they ripped through. The Florida coastline tearing down trees. Knocking down power lines even in some cases ripping the roofs off houses look at that one there ripped right from the roof down the wall and this. Is house that was constructed. In the path of hurricanes constructed with an idea of withstanding hurricanes that is not the case. As Steve was saying as you move up the coast let's turn to Sam Champion now he is in the weather center in Miami Florida. Sam how bad is this thing likely to be. It still gonna continue to be bad news I mean we've we've got all day the rest of the day into the night and part of the day tomorrow there will still be talking about this storm being. Potentially Perkins I mean we we're down to 125 mile per hour winds in the center of the storm that's a cat three hurricane. They're coastlines of the US that have a problem dealing with cat three hurricanes much less driving it through communities that have never had to see our hurricane period. I'm so this is really a bad situation that we find ourselves in and it doesn't get better overnight tonight much even though the intensity of this storm will continue to drop. Now that it's driving well inland so would you show you quickly where the center of the storm is look at that. Look at the center of circulation still so clearly visible as it moves to the Florida Georgia line. That's unbelievable. So we're looking at Dothan Alabama here they're getting a good dose of rain and thunderstorms through that the other thing I want to tell you is now we've extended. This. Extreme wind warning. For gusts that will be above a 110 know what I started. Warning people. About the storm a couple days ago I fully expected we'd see eighty and ninety mile per hour winds. In this southern corner of Alabama and also in south Georgia who we're talking about gusts of over a 110 miles per hour now I was not expecting that. That is very damaging winds it's likely there won't be a whole lot of these communities that have any power at all. Because your saturating the ground with all this rain David then you've got the win they'll take that tree ball down. And put it into power lines and that's bad news for everybody I'll show you just briefly that. Eight area shaded in yellow here. That's a tornado watch now we have had tornadoes pop up well south of that watch. But also look at these red dots that are in there are those of the doppler radar indicated tornado warnings. And we have plenty of those little bit north of the Jacksonville. And also kind of close to wake crossed a little bit north and east of where cross in Georgia now and watch these storms that are moving all the way up solidly into Macon Georgia looking at Augusta Georgia as well Savannah hasn't really gotten into these bands yet but pretty soon. It will as this kind of continues this pile around. These feeder bands as long as you can get any of this still connected with water and the other thing you want to look for just for our interest. The the meteorological interest of it. Is watch how these bands will continue to feed even off the Atlantic. On into this storm so there's plenty plenty plenty of rain because these storms. Just get pulled in. Toward the center of it as long as there's a center of circulation so this will take an awful long time to rain out. The projected path of this is to go right through south and central Georgia on into South Carolina as well and this is going to be a long long night. Of conversations into the day tomorrow here's wind gusts that we've had so far already. A 12802. Miles per hour merry at a 116 in Panama City 129 Tyndall air force base in for a while. We were kind of wondering whether the storm would wobbled where the center would be actually in that Tyndall area but they came up with a pretty powerful wind anyway. 87 miles per hour and Apalachicola. 113. And mill town but the one thing the wind that has not I've not seen anything higher than. Is that 1:55. Central wind. As this storm made landfall near Mexico beach in Florida the one thing before we go on this David as I just want. People to realize how much time we still have would this storm and how committee many communities are still to be impacted. Look at this run this is where we are right now with the cat three. Watch the long line of this go all the way toward know for Norfolk even Ocean City, Maryland. And if you look along the line here this is where we show you we're looking at a hurricane cat three. This is kind of where we show you were expecting it to be tropical storm straight through Raleigh. And all the way in toward nor Norfolk and even Ocean City so 45 mile per hour winds at 2 o'clock on Thursday. Near Charlotte. So there's an awful lot left in this storm and as far as rain goes I have not seen anyone downgrade the rain expectation the storm in central South Carolina and central North Carolina a good six to ten inches of rain possible with this day. So we are still just an act one of this storm. Thank you very much Sam at this point the governors of Florida Alabama. Georgia and the Carolinas have all declared states of emergency here we're gonna go in just a me two minutes to FEMA headquarters. But first I want to have a look at some tape that was fed in from our Atlanta affiliate. David Huddleston he is a reporter and he station right now in Panama City let's give a look at what he said. We are here and Panama City we could not get to Panama beach anymore because the bridge heading to Panama City Beach has been shut off. We are now and Panama City we have that is when I'm answers were a second because the rain continues to fall. Want to show you some of the damage here it is still raining at this point. And that is still windy but look here in the distance you could see the Waffle House some of the damage from. Hurricane Michael cause here in this area and Tom pan over just a little bit you can see some of the debris here in the CBS. The tree of course blocking the driveway here so people of cars have come around here trying to. Get in it Allen of course it come around not able to see that now we want to show you this the most dramatic here right now our area this is a hotel that we're staying in and you can see those columns there that was a canopy leading to the hotel there are cars parked underneath they're thinking that would be a good place for shelter. Baghdad became down crushing many of the cars that are underneath that canopy dirt cars that are parked near the hotel that have had numerous damaged as well in this back parking lot you can see there are some flooding in this area just look at that damage did some other trees that are in this area as well. That's a reporter David Huddleston of WSB. Atlanta reporting. From Panama City I believe that may be the hotel. That we saw David Muir reporting from earlier today I am told him that is the hotel. Where the front portico you saw there collapsed. Crushing a bunch of cars underneath there were parked there basically to provide protection for the people inside this is the view from inside. That hotel lobby as that's that. Portico came tumbling down. Just a dramatic scene and a scene that we may expect to see. Repeated as this storm now moves further into the country further north. In the coastal areas the big concern has been the sore storm surge and flash flooding. High winds continue to be an issue as do flash floods these are areas that. May not have experienced hurricanes recently met have been soaked in the recent months by other storms. We're gonna dramatic Kenneth moat and he is set to FEMA headquarters in Washington DC Kenneth. Last year 2017. Seems like a lifetime ago where that was already. The most expensive year on record for national does natural disasters. Six hurricanes as well as droughts and wildfires out in the west. This year it looks like theme as budget is gonna need a boost as well. It does look that way especially when you're dealing with a category four near cat five. Type of storm like Michael so we know in the southeast. And the Carolinas which is already been going with a lot of flooding upper floors. That beam is gonna play a very important role when it comes to the work that's. Really need in the days ahead like behind me here they that I can tell you that there's been. A number of FEMA officials who have really been working hard to make sure that the coordinated effort. Is the air for the states for Florida Alabama Georgia the Carolinas. We just got some information from FEMA as well because federal officials David we know were worried. That book fast moving nature of the storm didn't give residents enough time to get out and I simply because we know that this hurricane went from. Ways the moment that we learned about Michael they really in that. In a matter what a span of six hours Michael went from a tropical storm to what a projected. Category three or so we know an estimated 325000. People. We're told to evacuate by local officials. In the path of hurt remarkable only 6000. People over a ride at the eighty. Shelters across five states. 5000 and Florida the rest of scatter across Alabama Georgia and withdrawing south on a Red Cross officials playing such an important role. In making sure that people have what they needed the resources they need to shelter. In the in some many of those shelters. Those officials say they expect shelter population swelled to get this 20000. It by Thursday. Or Friday again wreck cross inspects those shelters have at least 20000 people by Thursday or Friday. FEMA administrator Brock long here express this fear people trying to write out the storm. When he spoke to president top at the White House and briefed him. Just before Michael me landfall and Brock also told the president hurt him Michaels the big storm. Begin to hit Florida says the 1850s. He's worry not enough people. Evacuated so the evacuation definitely. Will be an issue I'm looking off to the let's hear because we're waiting for deceive an official we're gonna speak with that if FEMA here can chat with us. Still not yet all right. Let me out of I had to get people are busy Dave sure. Yeah sure I mean they've got their hands full there. I wondered if it's important to underscore for people that it's not just dealing with the immediate aftermath here but the longer term aftermath as well when you've got hundreds of thousands of people without power. In hot and humid Florida that means all of those people don't have access to refrigeration for one thing and they better be concerned about access to clean water is well there is a longer term risk. Not only of hunger but also of the possibility of disease is now. There is an Bemis that is going to be there just like they have personnel who Revere high performance hit still. Right as Michael was making landfall they've got 3000 people in the southeast. And you mix it. The people. That's the number one concern the priority first and foremost for FEMA is making sure that those people are C. And we look at Florida yes. Florida have a very high elderly population. Older population where they are going to need help and so team as well aware and in fact they have a very specialized group of people here. Who handled disabilities elderly here to make sure that those who are stuck in their homes who maybe don't have family close by who could've gotten them out. That they are able to help those who elderly care who really needed the most vulnerable. In our communities and so they when it comes to the days I head. Theme in the weeks ahead I really should take this remember Brock long told us earlier that it. FEMA expects of the power will be out for really. Could be weeks in some of those market area and some of the images that we're seeing right now. You better believe that the when those paralyze come down associate some of those rural areas that it could be without power for some time again behind me here. Just rows and rows of people at different areas of our government. Corning with FEMA here under the Department of Homeland Security. Who were coordinating right now that massive federal response that we're seeing and it's incredible again David to see. That's right it is indeed and it's a test for FEMA a test for this administration as well. Coming shortly after a test last year when a hurricane Maria. Hit. Puerto Rico and other parts of the south that. Already the deadliest hurricane since 1990. We'll have to see hopefully this storm will not be as devastating. In terms of life and death as that one clearly we can expect to see masses amounts of property damage and the storm. But. You know in a political year coming one month before the mid term elections. This is an opportunity for the president to show leadership he said he's going to visit this region come Sunday. But it's also a test and a question of whether the administration is up to the task of handling a problem of this magnitude. Are the folks there in FEMA headquarters confident that they can take on up a storm of this size. They are confident and when you talk about what I think some team officials will call political Norway's. They really keep that noise Al when it comes to white cap and politically when it comes to the response from the federal response they're focused on. The people but your right in the Oval Office earlier today we saw president can't get that update from Brock when he was asking a number of questions. And in fact he actually brought up the fact that there are a lot of people who could not get out and what's happening with them the president. Also is that yes he has plans. To go down visit the areas impacted the panhandle Florida Alabama. We don't know exactly where he would go but the president all of these obviously. Knowing that each time he visits and you can any of these places impact especially after a devastating storm like this. That. It causes a lot of issues and takes away some resources where law enforcement. On first responders will have to pay attention to the president vs the recovery effort to remember there's going to be a big. Search and recovery after one and when rescue after when it comes to this storm. From the images from the storm surge that we're seeing right now. And we do know. And as an I've read David let me stop there because we didn't have an official that I wanna doing right now I certain ethnic here. Not to really talk anymore tea. I got gusher from FEMA for back from FEMA tell me your specialty in her talking earlier I know have to deal with. Those who have disabilities the most vulnerable especially in Florida as a high totally population chuckle about that and the response. Absolutely so a lot of our focus here fee in the last 24 to 48 hours in partnership with the state of Florida and the other states are being impacted. It is to try to think holistic Lee to think really broadly about all the types of folks are going to be impacted by hurricane Michael. So I mean you know certainly were thinking about folks you have followed evacuation orders her local officials and moved out of the way of the storm. But there are a lot of folks who for a variety of reasons are not necessarily going to be able follow those evacuation orders right. I'm you've got to think about folks who may not have a transportation options about perhaps someone. I doesn't have a vehicle doesn't have a working vehicle need to think about. I contingency plans for folks like that others to may have a mobility challenged so folks to. Typically may have a support system to help them get around town or get around their community. Those support systems aren't always going to be in places as we start to see activity related to our hurricane like like Michael so what FEMA does is in partnership with. Many of our voluntary organizations other community based organizations have specialties in trying to meet the needs of those with. I unique challenges whether. That to try to get those resource is lined out make sure that those groups they can assist are connected with disaster survivors. Are those that are going to be impacted by the event. To make sure that they've got options and that they know if there's a potential. Person or organization can help them now very seamy challenges right now or is it still too soon so waiting for those hurricane force winds to die right now. Buy it it is too soon make any generals kind of assessments. We certainly know that with the severity of Michael both from. Winds perspective as well as what it's gonna do in terms of storm surge and rises in water elevation. I'd that we expect right that folks who were not able to evacuate. And get out of the way of the storm. They are at a minimum going to be severely inconvenienced and some folks are certainly and are going to be facing a very grave situation overnight tonight and into the day tomorrow. Hey if they were not able to evacuate. So currently the focus is really to seek shelter to seek cover from the storm. We'll start to see damage reports later tonight and then certainly tomorrow at first light. As damage assessments began. I it's going to be very important for folks to listen to the advice from local officials from local media. Where there will be information about. And where to go to seek resources where shelters are available. And also important information about things like. Electricity power utilities. In many of these areas that are being impacted now it may not be safe. To return for a number of days and local officials and local law enforcement are going to be best informed about that so we really want folks to stay connected to. Their local media channels and outlets to make sure they're getting the best information about their community how was impacted and then when it's going to be safe to go back Zack important work again thank you. Her join in us I know you're busy person and we really appreciate you taking the time to talk with and good luck with the federal response our pleasure thank you thank you again as you see Odyssey to sit very important they are for FEMA to to really help those vulnerable communities. Florida big retirement area as well and those who were not able to get out of the evacuation zone so FEMA really watching. Closely David. ABC's Kenneth mountain we appreciate your watching closely merit FEMA headquarters and keeping an eye on the bigger picture of forest let's turn back now though to. The blaze that bore the brunt of this storm as it came. Inland. Two we're gonna turn to Liz her she's an ABC reporter. In Panama City lead Liz what did you say. David where we are the eye of the hurricane may have moved on but you know you wouldn't know officials have said all along this storm is massive and in fact we are still taking a beating from the wind which is quite ferocious let me about the ways you can see that the damage that we are being built but we're right next to a -- beach and and this sign has already blown off. And across the street all IC is just outline of each read that it's snapped in half. And there are there's just debris that have been flown in through an all out off the street. Now I'm gonna step back into the camera here just to give you an idea of what we are dealing with. Normally would be ABC news I did you like the walking on national Intel cut but it. But I'm had already given my photographer a heads up Peter you can now. Pay out to show. Everyone what we are working. Up against we used everything Ambac available a tooth. C and Baghdad not only the camera light that we haven't produced here who actually holding elected down and hold. Hit and that his. Literally that I am tethered to fight hard wired to make sure that this life it can happen on this because where we are the power has. Lost power about 34 hours I have lost track at this point but when. Her came Michael made landfall I was in my hotel room here and the light with flickering on and off and then just as soon and that kind when I believe the hurricane made apple the light went out. The building start to sheet and all of a sudden the first floor I just started to like here this will tell it remained open just for media members media members. Who were staying on the first floor they actually had to pack up their belongings. And now they are operating out of a lobby here I actually cannot move I'm gonna have Peter what I noticed while I'm standing here one more thing to show you. Your right across the street I thought I billboard. That I. She been a very close eye on because. This just how very windy it is that billboard parts of that I he has blown off and unfortunately that's what we have to keep an eye out for because. Not only are street signs being knocked over but billboards like that unfortunately it looks like parts of it have they just cannot withstand the power of the wind that we're dealing with here feel as far as the situation here is concerned. If there's any good news we're not dealing with no rain anymore but the way it is. Light up powerful and I I want to think the last I checked. At the couple before caught that we are told even though once again that rocked the center of the storm has moved on and now moving inland the wind here with still clocking in at eighty miles per hour so it is incredible. That's exactly what. We're dealing with and hopefully. Everyone is staying safe where we are because that's what officials are telling everyone it's nothing to venture out here shelter in place and Stacy Stacy David back to you. ABC's Liz heron Panama city beach Florida literally hanging on to her hat there we have a bit of video. Shot by David mirror from his hotel room in that moment that she was describing there where that. Hurricane. Actually shook the windows of the hotel is given a list. It's three. It's treatment. Just a quick glimpse of the power of those winds. As they while oak Florida they have now moved on from Panama City Beach moving further inland. And joining us now briefly ABC's Sam Champion Sam where next is this storm headed. They did so we continue to. Watch the path of this storm go all the way through south and central Georgia then make its move through central South Carolina than central North Carolina. It eventually comes off the coast line. Right around the Virginia. North Carolina border right up against the coast but we want to go over kind of what the flooding that's going on right now we still have flood warnings out. For pretty big area look at the area and read here that's the central. Part of the Florida Panhandle now that's we've already received a good general seven inches of rain there there's an additional two to four expected. So the flood warnings are out right now for flooding that is going on right now I'm not just that coastal water but for the rain flooding the flash flooding that's going on. In that area so that would verify the almost ten inches of rain. That we expected out this storm on the high end of what we expected there and I know there's going to be some communities that come in with more than ten inches of rain there then look at this as we broaden the map out our cement has made a great map forest just to show you that we've got flood watches out the area shading green and that runs from right there around to open in an Albany Georgia all the way up through the Carolinas through Philly area through New York on into Boston and going there's no possible way this storm could have that big of a stretch of rain impact. But it does and here's why. There's the cold front this is this this is the system that's actually gonna make. That moisture kind of an end what's left of the storm shift on off to the East Coast so as that cold front drives in an -- cut explained earlier but that may be some folks just joined us. When a hurricane comes on shore it's a perfectly. Kind of like round in tight. Moisture delivery system once it's on short starts to open up because the spin isn't a strong and that it spreads that moisture out to everywhere. And the reason that moisture is only hanging on the East Coast is here comes the cold front to trap it and squeeze it. And as that cold front goes along that moisture gets thrown all the way out so New York just put out a watch for flooding that's up in that area. And they're expecting a two inches of rain on Thursday. Because as that cold front comes through which was already gonna deliver rain for them on Thursday. It now has an additional boost of rain from this tropical moisture that's going to be thrown up up against that cold front because of our hurricane. So there's arcane sitting down there with a sixteen inches or rain. And all the way up toward New York they'll get two inches rain not all of that was coming because the storm but it's enhanced because of that storm. Here's the path that we still have left to travel David in this answers your question how long do we have well we have Thursday with the storm right there are solidly near Georgia. And South Carolina. Then Thursday by two. AM Thursday by 2 PM we still have 45 mile per hour winds. As the storm is very close to Raleigh. And it following the tracker this look at this this is I didn't even notice this the first time we're talking about it. So if that circulation is still holding and the way that it gets off of Norfolk in Ocean City someplace in between there. And then you see that wind pick up. That's the expectation that this circulation will stay in place long enough. To strengthen a little bit once it comes off shore. Again so we've got a long time to deal with this storm a lot of people have some very intense and serious impacts to go throughout the rest of the day today into tonight. It into the day tomorrow so there's a lot of reporting there's a lot of stuff to tilt they'll still tell about the stormed it. An excellent summary there is Sam thank you so much for filling us in and for all of your insights. Into the movement of this storm and the potential for devastating impact here.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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