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Schools Offer Shelter as Hurricane Michael Lashes Florida, Heads to Georgia and Carolinas

Hurricane-Michael-school-shelter-1-article.jpgHurricane Michael, the strongest storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades, slammed into the state on Wednesday afternoon and left a trail of destruction in its wake as it made its way to Georgia.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Hurricane Michael, which made landfall near Mexico Beach, Fla., as a Category 4 storm, was the worst to hit the state, according to the New York Times. Nearly 200,000 power outages, primarily in coastal areas, were reported, as a result of the storm, according to The Washington Post.

Several Florida schools were being used as shelters on Wednesday.

Some schools appeared to have sustained serious damage.

The Twitter account for Bay High School in the Bay County school district, which includes Panama City, posted photos to the school's Facebook page that showed hurricane damage to its feeder school, Jinks Middle School. Another school, Rutherford High School, had debris and water on the property, and A. Crawford Mosley High School appeared to have lost part of its roof.

"We are aware of some areas of serious devastation in our community and, as soon as it [is] safe, we will begin the process of assessing damage to our homes, like many of you, and our school facilities," the district wrote in a Facebook message. "Our thoughts are with our families who have suffered losses as a result of this storm and with our first responders and emergency management experts as they guide us through the difficult days ahead. As we have more information to share we will post it here and through regular media outlets."

By late Wednesday afternoon, Hurricane Michael, which had by then been downgraded to a Category 3 storm, had made its way into Georgia.

The National Hurricane Center warned that the storm still had potential to cause significant damage, including life-threatening flash floods in the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend, and parts of Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and as far north as southeast Virginia.

Parts of the Carolinas that were drenched with several inches of rain a few weeks ago and are still trying to recover from that storm's devastation are in Hurricane Michael's path.

North Carolina's New Hanover County School district, which was closed for nearly three weeks because of Hurricane Florence, announced Tuesday that it would close on Thursday out of an abundance of caution.

Photo caption: Earnest Sweet rests against student lockers while his daughters Terri, 4, center, and Anna, 7, sleep at an evacuation shelter set up at Rutherford High School in Panama City, Fla., on Oct 10 in advance of Hurricane Michael's landfall. --Gerald Herbert/AP

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