PANAMA CITY, Florida—The first death on the U.S. mainland has been reported after Hurricane Michael claimed 13 lives in Central America earlier in the week. Authorities say a Florida Panhandle man was killed by a falling tree as Hurricane Michael tore through the state.
Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower says they received a call around 6 p.m. Wednesday, saying a tree had crashed through the roof of the man’s Greenboro home and trapped him. Emergency crews were heading to the home, but downed power lines and blocked roads were making the trip difficult.
Officials hadn’t immediately confirmed the man’s name.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says search and rescue teams are heading into the state’s hardest-hit areas to help survivors of Hurricane Michael.
The storm has been downgraded to Category 3 as of Wednesday evening. The National Hurricane Center said Michael’s eye 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.
Earlier, around 1:40 p.m, Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane.
Scott held a news conference Wednesday evening and urged people to stay off roads and leave them open to first responders as they begin the work of search and rescue—and recovery.
He says flash flooding and tornadoes are still possible, and says officials have heard reports of at least two tornadoes in Florida.
Scott said at least 192,000 homes and businesses are without power, but vowed “a massive wave of response” with thousands of utility personnel fanning out to restore power, along with medical teams, law enforcement personnel and the search and rescue squads.
More than 32,000 homes and businesses in Georgia were without power in the evening of Oct. 10 as parts of the state were beginning to feel the impact from Hurricane Michael.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Georgia Power said around 4:30 p.m. that 17,580 customers had lost power. Georgia EMC said that about 15,376 of its customers were also without power.
For Georgia EMC, most of its affected customers were in five counties in southwest Georgia, where more than 13,500 customers were without power. In metro Atlanta, just 17 customers were without power.
In an email, an EMC spokesperson said winds had caused trees to fall onto power lines, prompting the outages.