Blackouts, 1 dead after Hurricane Michael slams Florida Panhandle

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Hurricane Michael has cut power to more than 200,000 people in the Florida Panhandle and many of the hardest hit areas may not get it back for weeks, officials said Thursday.

Michael arrived near Panama City Wednesday with 155 mph winds -- just below Category 5 strength -- and peeled off roofs, flooded streets and uprooted trees. At least one person was killed by a falling tree.

Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm and is moving toward the Carolinas, and areas already hit hard this year by Hurricane Florence.

Gulf Power, which provides electricity to northwest Florida, said it had about 112,000 customers without power. Electric line workers from multiple states are in Florida to help restore service. Duke Energy reported Thursday at least 31,000 customers are without power in the Panhandle.

The City of Tallahassee restored power to some customers but still had more than 111,000 without service by early Thursday.

"We anticipate that number to continue to grow as neighbors continue to report outages and our system monitoring assets are returned to service," Tallahassee Commissioner Scott Maddox said in a Facebook post.

10-11 Outage Report Florida SERT (@FLSERT)

In a series of tweets overnight, Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged patience as power crews work to restore electricity.

"We are going to be aggressive with recovery and response over the coming days and will do everything we can to assist our communities that have seen impacts from this devastating storm," he said. "Again, it is imperative for you to stay indoors as our first responders arrive. The roads need to be clear so they can respond as needed without interference."

Walls and windows were sucked out of a Holiday Inn in Panama City, where many evacuees were sheltered. Shards of glass and pieces of clothing could be seen all over the hotel. Cellular service is limited and there's no Internet access at all, officials said.

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