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Hurricane Michael’s deadly trail of devastation now stretches from the Florida Panhandle, where it wiped away a coastal city, to the Carolinas, where it triggered flash floods that turned roads into rivers. And the threat continues overnight.
Now a tropical storm with winds of 50 mph, Michael is expected to gain strength as it passes into Virginia and moves into the western Atlantic Ocean overnight, bringing damaging winds and life-threatening flash flooding over parts of North Carolina and Virginia.
Six people are dead in the storm’s path, and authorities fear the toll could climb higher as search-and-rescue efforts continue. So far, Coast Guard crews in Florida have rescued 40 people and assisted 232.
Conditions remain precarious in hard hit areas, especially Mexico Beach, Florida, where Michael reduced buildings to rubble and snapped trees in half. A councilwoman from there issued an urgent plea to anyone thinking of returning.
“Please don’t come down,” Linda Albrecht said. “The more people that return, it’s just going to get in the way.”
• Where is Michael? As of Thursday evening, the storm was centered about five miles northwest of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.
• Power outages are on the rise: 1.3 million customers in six states are without power, including 604,831 in North Carolina.
• Victims identified: The dead include four people in Florida, a child in Georgia and a man in North Carolina.
• Public health emergency declared in Georgia: The declaration will help ensure those who rely on Medicare and Medicaid have access to the care they need, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.