‘The Worst is Yet to Come’: Officials Warn Residents as Apalachicola Goes Underwater from Hurricane Michael

Noon Update:

Franklin County Emergency Management Director Pam Brownell said 2,871 homes were without power as of noon Wednesday in Franklin County.

U.S. Highway 98 is closed as water nears the road, Brownell said. Alligator Drive on Alligator Point and Gulf Avenue on St. George Island is also impassable.

Ho Hum RV Park is flooded, according to reports.

10 a.m. Update:

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith is urging individuals to stay indoors as Hurricane Michael approaches the Big Bend. Gusts were up to 60 mph at 9 a.m.

Smith said following a 9 a.m. briefing with the National Weather Service Wednesday that the surf is “extremely high” on St. George Island. Streets leading to St. George Island Bridge and the Apalachicola Bridge are beginning to take on water as well, he said.

“I’m very concerned,” Smith said. “I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes and at this point it’s concerning to me. If it continues as it is, we’ll probably have some roads washed away.”

Smith said the Sheriff’s Office will enforce a dusk to dawn curfew beginning Wednesday night.

“If you are out, you will be arrested,” Smith said. “Let this be your warning.”

Pam Brownell, Franklin County Emergency Management director, said as of Wednesday morning, first responders are no longer able to perform rescues or respond to medical calls.

“We can’t put first responders’ lives in jeopardy,” Brownell said. “After the storm, we have 49 strike teams that are coming as soon as they can get here Thursday.

“Stay in the house and hunker down,” she continued. “The worst is jet to come.”

7 a.m. Update:Approximately 50 residents remained on St. George Island in Franklin County Tuesday night as officials continued to urge the islanders to evacuate.

Tress Dameron, Franklin County emergency management coordinator, said it was unclear as of Wednesday morning how many of those 50 had continued to stay behind.

“We’ve told those who stayed to have their life jackets on when the storm comes,” Dameron said Wednesday.

The St. George Island Bridge closed Tuesday night following the last-call for evacuees.

Two residents on Dog Island, which is only accessible by boat, also ignored evacuation orders, according to emergency management officials.

Hurricane Michael remains a very dangerous Category 4 hurricane as it continues its path towards the Big Bend.

As of the National Hurricane Center’s 4 a.m. advisory, maximum sustained winds are 140 miles per hour. The central pressure continues to drop and is now at 943 millibars.

The center of the storm was about 140 miles south-southwest of Panama City. It is traveling north at 13 miles per hour.

All forecasting “spaghetti” models track the eye of the storm through the Panama City area and into Tallahassee during the course of the day Wednesday. The storm is expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon.

Dangerous storm surge is expected in Franklin County. The projected storm surge, if Hurricane Michael remains on its current track, will be up to 13 feet.

Roads in Franklin County have also begun to close due to flooding.

Water Street in Apalachicola was underwater as of 7 a.m. Wednesday, in addition to Alligator Drive in eastern Franklin County, which is the only access road to Alligator Point.

Downed trees were also reported throughout the county, including across U.S. Highway 98 near Franklin County High School.

Allan Feifer, who stayed behind at his home on Alligator Point, said as of 7 a.m. Wednesday the dirt road leading out of the peninsula had been washed away. Feifer said at least a few dozen residents remained.

“Too many people stayed behind,” Feifer said. “I’m on Bald Point (Road) and I’m in a fortified house. Our major concern is our neighbors. We hope they don’t bolt to the exit because it’s too late to go.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Apalach Times, by Heather Osbourne