Georgia girl, 11, dies as Michael hurls debris through roof

ATLANTA (AP) — By all accounts, Sarah Radney was safe inside her grandparents' home when Hurricane Michael roared into southwest Georgia.

If the family feared anything, it was probably falling trees — not a carport next to the house.

In what could only be described as a freak accident, authorities say Michael's powerful winds lifted the portable structure high into the air and slammed it back down on the house. When it landed, one of the legs tore through the roof, fatally striking the 11-year-old girl in the head.

Michael dropped from a Category 4 hurricane to a Category 1 as it arrived in Georgia, and later weakened to a tropical storm. Still, it caused havoc in parts of the state, spinning off tornadoes and leaving downed trees, damaged buildings and power outages behind as it marched toward the Carolinas.

Sarah had the week off from school for fall break and she and her 12-year-old brother had been staying at their grandparents' house near a lake in Seminole County since Monday. They were supposed to return home Thursday morning.

At home in Cairo about 45 miles (70 kilometers) away, Sarah's father and stepmother, Roy and Amber Radney, kept in touch with her grandparents through frequent phone calls as the storm winds gusted around them.

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Hurricane Michael hits Florida Panhandle
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Hurricane Michael hits Florida Panhandle
A storm chaser climbs into his vehicle during the eye of Hurricane Michael to retrieve equipment after a hotel canopy collapsed in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Brian Bon inspects damages in the Panama City, Fla., downtown area after Hurricane Michael made landfall along Florida's Panhandle on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
View of damages to a McDonald's in Panama City, Fla., downtown area after Hurricane Michael made landfall along Florida's Panhandle on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Scott Brazer and his dog Franklin take shelter in a parking garage as Hurricane Michael passes through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Debris is blown down a street by Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Karen Haskett walks past a fence damaged by Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A hotel canopy collapses onto vehicles during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Derik Kline takes shelter in a parking garage as Hurricane Michael passes through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Frank Gaetano takes shelter in a parking garage as Hurricane Michael passes through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
View of wild waves hitting the coast early morning in Panama City Beach Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 before the arrival of Hurricane Michael. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Chuck Cummins is blown around by the winds as he takes shelter in a parking garage as Hurricane Michael passes through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Waves crash on stilt houses along the shore due to Hurricane Michael at Alligator Point in Franklin County, Florida, U.S., October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
Florida has been battered by Hurricane Michael as winds of 155mph tore ashore and brought severe flooding.
Florida has been battered by Hurricane Michael as winds of 155mph tore ashore and brought severe flooding.
Michael is strongest hurricane to hit US mainland since 1992 Storm made landfall at Mexico Beach, Florida Donald Trump warns it is a "monster" Storm crosses into Georgia Watch latest path of storm in Florida Florida has been battered by Hurricane Michael as winds of 155mph tore ashore and brought severe flooding. By wind speed the Category 4 hurricane is the strongest to hit the US mainland since 1992, and the fourth strongest ever recorded. At least one person was killed after the storm came ashore in the Florida panhandle, an area of beaches, fishing towns, and military bases in the north-west of the state, since records began in 1851. Addressing Floridians from the Oval Office, Donald Trump said: "I say God bless you all. That's my message. This started off very innocently a week ago, a small storm. They said it grew into a monster." It later crossed into southwestern Georgia as a dangerous Category 3 storm, the strongest to hit that part of the state in recorded history. Michael was expected to bring a foot of rain and a storm surge of up to 14ft. More than 375,000 people along the coast had been warned to evacuate, but many stayed behind. Hurricane Michael formed off the coast of Cuba carrying major Category 4 landfall in the Florida Panhandle Credit: AP The storm made landfall near Panama City Florida, on Wednesday afternoon, ripping off roofs and bending metal railings. One Florida Panhandle man was killed by a falling tree after it crashed through the roof of his home.  “My God, it’s scary. I didn’t expect all this,” said Bill Manning, 63, a grocery clerk who fled his camper van in Panama City for safer quarters in a hotel, only to see the electricity there go out. "Panama City, I don’t know if there will be much left." Only a couple of hours after Michael came ashore, floodwaters were more than 7-1/2 feet deep near Apalachicola on Florida's Panhandle, National Hurricane Centre Director Ken Graham said. Boats sit in a storage warehouse damaged from Hurricane Michael at Treasure Island Marina in Panama City Beach Credit: Bloomberg The president declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up government money for the disaster response. A total of 2,500 National Guard troops were deployed to the area, and 4,000 more were on standby, along with 17,000 workers who will help to restore power. Rick Scott, the Florida governor, said on Twitter: "This is a horrible, horrible storm. I am scared to death for people that didn't evacuate." Marco Rubio, the Florida senator, said: "There is going to be a killer, a killer storm surge in this event. Nine, 10, 11 feet. No one is going to survive that. The Gulf of Mexico is kind of like a basin of water, all being pushed up on people, and if you’re still there when that comes in, you’re going to die." Donald Trump addressing Floridians from the Oval Office: "God bless you all." Credit: Reuters Meteorologists said the unexpected way Michael had developed, its wind speeds increasing by 50 per cent in one 24-hour period, had been "jaw-dropping". In Panama City, Diane Farris, 57, was among over 1,000 people crammed into a shelter designed for half as many. She said: "I'm worried about my daughter and grandbaby. I don't know where they are." 12:36AM Man killed by falling tree Authorities say a Florida Panhandle man was killed by a falling tree as Hurricane Michael tore through the state. Anglie Hightower, Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, says they received a call around 6 pm, saying a tree had crashed through the roof of the man's Greensboro home and trapped him. Emergency crews were heading to the home, but downed power lines and blocked roads were making the trip difficult. Storm damage is seen after Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida Credit: AFP Florida Gov. Rick Scott says search and rescue teams are heading into the state's hardest-hit areas to help survivors. At a news conference, Mr Scott urged people to stay off roads and leave them open to first responders as they begin the work of search and rescue - and recovery. He says flash flooding and tornadoes are still possible, and says officials have heard reports of at least two tornadoes in Florida. Storm damage is seen after Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida Credit: AFP Mr Scott said at least 192,000 homes and businesses are without power in Florida, but vowed "a massive wave of response" with thousands of utility personnel fanning out to restore power, along with medical teams, law enforcement personnel and the search and rescue squads. In Georgia, meanwhile, more than 32,000 homes and businesses in Georgia were without power as parts of the state were beginning to feel the impact from the hurricane. 11:41PM Michael moves on to Georgia The National Hurricane Centre says Michael's eye has crossed from the Florida Panhandle into southwestern Georgia as a dangerous Category 3 storm - the strongest to hit that part of the state in recorded history. Maximum sustained winds of 115 mph were recorded in Seminole County, Georgia, on Wednesday evening.  According to an advisory, the storm was located 20 miles  west-northwest of Bainbridge, Georgia, and 50 miles southwest of Albany, Georgia. It was moving north-northeast at 13 mph. Heavy rainfall from #Michael could produce life-threatening flash flooding from the Florida Panhandle & Big Bend regions into portions of southeast Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and southeast Virginia. See the latest @NWSWPC forecasts for more details: https://t.co/3qxGBA9w6tpic.twitter.com/lsGXGrMq73— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) October 10, 2018 Dangerous storm surge continues along the coast of the Florida Panhandle. 11:21PM Air force base suffers direct hit Tyndall Air Force Base says it has suffered "extensive damage" after taking a direct hit.  Tyndall Air Force Base, located in Panama City on the coast of the Florida Panhandle, was fully evacuated Tuesday night, just before the Michael made landfall, said Air Force General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command. "Before the storm ever arrived we'd actually transferred command and control capability to another facility," O'Shaughnessy told Pentagon reporters. Tyndall is a major facility for protecting the air space over the continental United States, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The four-star general added that some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm. "It really started as a tropical storm, and then it went to Category 1, then it was Category 2 and before you know it, it was Category 4," O'Shaughnessy said. "Where that becomes a factor is with the evacuation of some of the local populations," he said. "We haven't seen as robust of an evacuation response from the civilian population that we have seen in other storms." 10:49PM Donald Trump does not cancel campaign rally in Pennsylvania The president said he couldn't let down thousands of people queuing to see him. Couldn’t let these great people down. They have been lined up since last night - see you soon Pennsylvania! pic.twitter.com/jSrsmncw85— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2018   10:13PM Destruction in Panama City Storm chaser Jeff Gammons has posted pictures of damage in Panama City There’s a lot of damage in Panama City, FL. #HurricaneMichaelpic.twitter.com/c3Ik4R3ZRs— Jeff Gammons (@StormVisuals) October 10, 2018   10:11PM Bank destroyed in Panama City The First Federal Bank of Florida in #PanamaCity has been completely destroyed this afternoon by #HurricaneMichael. pic.twitter.com/F9UnVTfw1n— Justin Peden (@JustAPeden) October 10, 2018   9:12PM Michael becomes strongest US hurricane since 1992 Based on wind speed Michael was the strongest hurricane to hit the US mainland since 1992. It was the the fourth strongest ever recorded to have hit the mainland. Patricia Mulligan, a Mexico Beach resident, told CNN the hurricane was "huge". She said: "The building we're in is huge and it was shaking. A concrete building, very, very scary." 8:59PM Mexico Beach takes the brunt Here is the scene in Mexico Beach, a coastal town with a population of just over 1,000. More damage from #HurricaneMichael in Mexico Beach, Florida (source: talarico.tessa) Videos @ https://t.co/g8ObaqqcEZ… pic.twitter.com/D3KmGUtgqQ— nwsgrl (@nwsgrl) October 10, 2018   8:57PM More video of damage in Mexico Beach Pure devastation in Mexico Beach, Florida. That's where the eye of near-category 5 Hurricane #Michael passed. Courtesy of talarico.tessa on Instagram.#FLwxpic.twitter.com/H1H4mVXJSL— Tyler Sebree (@TylerABC57) October 10, 2018   8:56PM Homes destroyed or submerged to roof level in Mexico Beach Video is emerging of houses destroyed, or submerged up to their roofs in Mexico Beach, Florida, which took a direct hit. Linda Albrecht, a Mexico Beach councilwoman, said: "It's like a nightmare, you want someone to shake you and wake you up. It came on so quickly." VIDEO: Mexico Beach, Florida has been devastated by #HurricaneMichael , with many homes destroyed and storm surge up to roof level. #Michael#flwx#ExtremeWeather Credit: talarico.tessa pic.twitter.com/3lSjWpdQ0Y— Airport Webcams (@AirportWebcams) October 10, 2018   8:50PM President Trump has delivered another statement on the hurricane President Trump delivers a statement on Hurricane Michael: pic.twitter.com/Jh9SEqrZp3— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 10, 2018   7:57PM Michael sends debris flying In Panama City debris has been sent flying. Part of a hotel collapses on a car in Panama City Credit: AP A hotel worker holds a door shut as it is hit by debris in Panama City Credit: AP   7:40PM Hurricane Michael seen from space Cameras outside the International Space Station captured this footage of Hurricane Michael just before landfall.   7:14PM Waffle House closes for Hurricane Michael A sign of the severity of the storm came as Waffle House announced it was closing 18 outlets in the area. The 24-hour chain is renowned for remaining open during terrible weather conditions, leading  experts to refer to the "Waffle House test" when assessing the seriousness of a storm. A Waffle House spokesman told Fox News: "We have closed these restaurants yesterday so our employees can be safe as Hurricane Michael comes on shore. “We have staged people and resources outside of the strike zone to come into the area after the storm passes. We will assess the damage and begin to reopen the restaurants as soon as it is safe to do so.” 6:56PM Michael makes landfall with 155mph winds Michael made landfall, the National Hurricane Center said, describing it as a "potentially catastrophic" Category 4 storm packing 155mph winds. "Hurricane Michael has made landfall just northwest of Mexico Beach, Florida," the hurricane centre said in its latest update. 6:25PM Donald Trump tells Floridians: 'God bless you all' As the eye of the storm approached the coast Donald Trump spoke from the Oval Office. He said: "I say God bless you all. That's my message because that's what it is. The storm is there. It's sort of too late to do that now from the standpoint of moving. "You have people that are stuck, they're just stuck there."
Hurricane Michael Lands In Florida With 155 MPH Winds
Joseph Howat clears a damaged fence by Hurricane Michael at his business in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Karen Haskett picks up debris in her business' yard damaged by Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Waves crash on stilt houses along the shore due to Hurricane Michael at Alligator Point in Franklin County, Florida, U.S., October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
A downed tree and power lines block a road during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
View of damages to the Presbyterian school in Panama City, Fla., downtown area after Hurricane Michael made landfall along Florida's Panhandle on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Storm damage is seen after Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida on October 10, 2018. - Michael slammed into the Florida coast on October 10 as the most powerful storm to hit the southern US state in more than a century as officials warned it could wreak 'unimaginable devastation.' Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Mexico Beach, a town about 20 miles (32kms) southeast of Panama City, around 1:00 pm Eastern time (1700 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
An American flag is seen after Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida on October 10, 2018. - Michael slammed into the Florida coast on October 10 as the most powerful storm to hit the southern US state in more than a century as officials warned it could wreak 'unimaginable devastation.' Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Mexico Beach, a town about 20 miles (32kms) southeast of Panama City, around 1:00 pm Eastern time (1700 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Storm damage is seen after Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida on October 10, 2018. - Michael slammed into the Florida coast on October 10 as the most powerful storm to hit the southern US state in more than a century as officials warned it could wreak 'unimaginable devastation.' Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Mexico Beach, a town about 20 miles (32kms) southeast of Panama City, around 1:00 pm Eastern time (1700 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Roy Radney was outside Wednesday evening when the call came that something had come through the roof and hit Sarah and his mother. Sarah had been struck in the face, couldn't breathe and quickly fell unconscious.

About 45 minutes later, Amber Radney called her father-in-law and learned Sarah was gone.

Emergency responders weren't able to reach the home until after midnight because power lines and trees blocked the roads. When they finally made it, they took Sarah's grandmother to a hospital, where she was treated for a punctured lung, a broken rib and flesh wounds, Amber Radney said.

The youngest of four until her father remarried and had two more daughters, Sarah loved being around her big family and made everything more fun, Roy and Amber Radney said in phone interviews with The Associated Press on Thursday.

"We couldn't ever get her to spend the night nowhere because she always wanted to be home with her family," Roy Radney said. "She was 11 years old, but she liked to have fun like a 5-year-old."

Sarah loved to perform, her father said. When she started sixth grade this year, she began playing the trumpet in the school band and had recently been in a play with the drama club.

Amber Radney said one of her favorite memories is of making a video of Sarah dancing to Outkast's "Hey Ya!" in a park about two years ago.

"She was so beautiful and she smiled so much that day," Amber Radney said. "She lit up everything."

Other parts of Georgia also were hit hard by the storm. National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Willis said there were two confirmed tornado touchdowns in the state: one in southwest Atlanta and another in Crawford County in central Georgia.

Willis said the Atlanta-area tornado was an EF0, the lowest intensity rating for a tornado, with sustained winds of 65 to 85 mph (105 to 137 kph). The damage there consisted mostly of fallen trees.

Willis said that a team was still working in Crawford County to assess the damage and intensity of the tornado.

In Roberta, in Crawford County, Hill Bentley said he saw spinning clouds that looked like a tornado Wednesday.

"I told my wife, Judy, 'Come on out, you want to see what a tornado looks like?'"

Bentley's home wasn't hit, but his friend Bradley Lewis wasn't so lucky. Dozens of fallen pines littered Lewis' front and back yards, and his roof and back porch were damaged. Luckily, he was not injured.

"Kaboom! Like the world moved or something," Lewis said of the moment when the trees snapped while he sheltered inside.

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