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Hurricane Michael Live Updates: Much of Florida Panhandle Is Left in Ruins



They asked people to avoid broken power lines and not to drive through flooded areas. They urged residents and visitors to keep emergency telephone lines open and, in some areas, to boil water or use bottled water. They told them to place the generators at least 15 feet from the houses and stay home.

In Tallahassee, the state capital, they even asked people to avoid washing their baths.

"It will help reduce the flow to the system until the current is restored," the city said in a Twitter post.

Above all, officials seemed to be asking for time and space.

"We ask the displaced to be patient as we begin recovery," the government in Bay County, Florida, wrote Thursday. "It's not safe for you to come back and stop the progress of our first rescuers."

While the hurricane plundered a suburban neighborhood of Panama Beach called Cherokee Heights on Wednesday, Fatima Zogaj found herself trapped in a house that was falling around her and her his family.

Ms. Zogaj, 41, and her husband, Ahmed Alsaqqa, had not given much thought to squatting at home before the storm. They bought their brick house six blocks in brick, three years ago, far from the coast and in a neighborhood of recently constructed brick houses.

"We did not expect it to be that bad," Mrs. Zogaj said last night, staying out in a neighborhood of broken trees, flooded meadows and torn tiles.

The couple, Ms. Zogaj's mother and their four children encountered few problems during the first hour of the storm while the wind started whipping and howling. But soon the rain, blowing to the side, began to seep through the window of a guest room on the second floor. Their tiles began to take off.


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