80 mile stretch of I-10 closed following Hurricane Michael

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The Florida Highway Patrol has closed an 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10 to clear debris from Hurricane Michael.

In an email sent early Thursday, spokesman Eddie Elmore said the road was closed "due to extremely hazardous conditions."

The agency is working with the Florida Department of Transportation to clear the interstate which is the major east-west route across northern Florida and the Panhandle.

Elmore said the road is closed west of Tallahassee, between mile marker 85 near DeFuniak Springs and mile marker 166 near Lake Seminole.

The email didn't say how long the work was expected to take.

Fires burning and storm surge take over Mexico Beach, Florida

Fires still burned in the early morning darkness the day after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, a Florida Gulf Coast beach town that doesn't usually get much attention. Michael pushed a 10-foot storm surge and 155 mph winds, just shy of a Category 5 hurricane, and Mexico Beach got the worst of it.

 

A reporter and photojournalist from the Tampa Bay Times ventured there in the dark early Thursday, finding the town of about 1,000 almost impassable. They reported seeing many destroyed homes, some with staircases leading to doors suspended 10 feet in the air with nothing on the other side, entire structures washed away. Refrigerators and toilets and piles of soggy furniture are strewn across properties.

And amid the wreckage, the crew spotted survivors - people who rode out the storm. One couple was looking for their mother's portable oxygen machine. Another man was shining a flashlight from his balcony as alarms sounded and fires burned.

Michael left more than 350,000 without power and entire neighborhoods in ruins. 

"It feels like a nightmare," Mexico Beach Councilwoman Linda Albrecht said of the catastrophic damage in her town. "Somebody needs to come up and shake you and wake you up."

In Greensboro, Florida, a man died Wednesday after a tree fell on a home, the local sheriff's office said.

RELATED: Florida man killed by falling tree during Hurricane Michael 

Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he's worried the number of deaths will rise Thursday.

"Hopefully they don't, but those numbers could climb as search and rescue teams get out," Long said.

Child dies in Georgia

An official with an emergency management agency says Tropical Storm Michael is responsible for a child's death in Georgia.

News outlets report Seminole County Emergency Management Agency Director Travis Brooks says someone called 911 as the storm passed through the area and reported the death. WMAZ-TV quotes Brooks as saying a tree fell onto a home Wednesday afternoon and killed an 11-year-old girl. Authorities have not released her identity.

Brooks says responding crews reached the home after nightfall due to clear downed power lines, poles and trees.

Early Thursday, the eye of Michael was about 25 miles east of Macon in central Georgia. The storm had top sustained winds of 60 mph and was moving to the northeast at 20 mph.

RELATED: Hurricane Michael brings flooding to Panhandle 

RELATED: Hurricane Michael is so bad Waffle House closed in Panama City Beach 

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