Hurricane Michael kills 17 in U.S., death toll expected to rise

Ismael LynchOct 14, 2018

Dave Mullins looks out over the damage in front of his home, seen in background left, where he rode out hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.

Across the ravaged region, meanwhile, authorities set up distribution centers to hand out food and water to victims.

In Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged.

The governor said he understands that many suffering after Michael are tense.

"People think of us as having doctors and nurses", he said.

He said, "Everybody just needs to help each other right now".

In Mexico Beach, population 1,000, the storm shattered homes, leaving floating piles of lumber.

Michael ploughed into Florida's Panhandle coast near the town of Mexico Beach at 14:00 (18:00 GMT) on Wednesday, one of the strongest storms to ever hit the U.S. mainland.

"I hope we don't see it climb dramatically but I have reasons to believe we still haven't got into some of the hardest hit areas", he said. He expected it to take several days before crews could even get to work on bringing Floridians out of the dark due to the vast cleanup that needs to take place. "We're probably done with Panama City". An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, was closed.

The storm is now the most powerful hurricane on record to strike the Florida Panhandle.

About 4,000 members of Florida's national guard have been called up to deal with the storm, including 500 added on Saturday.

The National Guard is in addition to almost 2,000 law-enforcement officials that have also been brought into the Panhandle.

He said "aggressive" search and rescue efforts would get underway.

Just three major hurricanes have hit the panhandle since 1950.

- Rescuers intensified efforts Saturday to find survivors who might be trapped amid the ruins of a small Florida Panhandle community almost obliterated by Hurricane Michael, where one body has already been recovered.

FEMA crews have been using bulldozers and other heavy equipment to push a path through debris so rescuers can sift the rubble using specially trained search dogs.

Three days after the devastating passage of Hurricane Michael, search teams in Florida pressed their hunt for victims into hard-to-reach areas on Saturday (Oct 13), as the death toll rose to 17 and officials scrambled to deliver aid to those who lost everything.

A similar storm hitting Jacksonville Beach could result in comparable damage, but surge would be slightly less due to deeper coastal profile and a higher dune profile than that of Mexico Beach.

Utility crews will be working throughout the weekend to restore power to Virginia customers. "We thought the windows were going to break at any time", Beu said. In Georgia, Southern's Georgia Power unit said it expected to restore service to most customers over the next couple of days with those in the hardest hit areas by October 16. Almost 500,000 customers were without power across the Carolinas as Michael swept through, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

Hurricane Michael had intensified to an "extremely dangerous" category 4 storm on Wednesday as it flashed towards the state of Florida even as Florida, Alabama, and Georgia had declared a state of emergency on the same day.

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power blocking emergency officials access to many towns. Some areas remain out of reach to authorities. Almost 100,000 customers in that coastal county also remain without power. Smaller coastal counties south of Panama City and rural north Florida counties also remain in the dark. The only sound that came back was the echo from the half-demolished building and the pounding of the surf.

The White House has issued an emergency declaration for the state of Alabama in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared that an emergency exists in Alabama and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from the hurricane starting October 10 and continuing.

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