17 dead after Hurricane Michael batters Florida - and figure likely to rise
14 October, 2018, 02:17 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
Miami, Oct 13 The death toll from hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to make landfall in the USA mainland, has increased to 17, with coastal Florida cities damaged beyond recognition, and homes, businesses and agriculture torn or swamped from Georgia to Virginia.
Activists say the anti-environment policies of the Florida governor, Rick Scott, who they have nicknamed Red Tide Rick, are at least partly responsible for the unprecedented scale of this year's outbreak of a naturally occurring phenomenon.
"It's like a bomb went off", Mr. Scott said as he toured the town of 1,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico.
"It's like a war zone", he said while touring the town of 1,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico.
Crews with dogs went door-to-door in Mexico Beach, pushing aside debris to get inside badly damaged structures in a second wave of searches following what they described as an initial, "hasty" search of the area.
"I think you're going to see it climb", Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said of the death count.
"I have reasons to believe we still haven't got into some of the hardest hit areas".
"What's happening is search and rescue is trying to get into the rubble to make sure that there's nobody covered up, trying to assess if there's additional casualties there", Mr.
"Very few people live to tell what it's like to experience storm surge", Mr.
Relatives of people who defied evacuation orders in Mexico Beach, a town where the storm obliterated shorefront neighborhoods, also posted messages on the Facebook pages of law enforcement pleading for help finding relatives.
Some 375,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes, but many residents found themselves trapped after they were caught unawares when the storm doubled in strength as it approached land. The walls had collapsed and "the only thing I could find of ours was my briefcase", he said.
Duke Energy Corp said its roughly 6,000 workers have restored power to more than half of the estimated 670,000 customers who lost power in the Carolinas.
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Trees were downed in Panama City, northwest of Mexico Beach, buildings flattened, boats and electrical cables scattered.
"I spent my life savings and retirement to stay here so I can't sell it now", Mr. Tenbrunson said. "I can't sell it now so I just have to be hopeful that (the city) will be rebuilt and fixed".
"They were hoping to ride it out", Senior said of the hospital.
Others came with nothing - as there was nothing left to save.
Six deaths have been confirmed - four in Florida, one in Georgia and one in North Carolina.
U.S. media on Friday quoted authorities in Jackson County, Florida, as reporting three deaths there, bringing Michael's toll to at least 16.
So far, at least two deaths have been attributed to the storm, but vast swaths of property were levelled.
Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, the strongest on record to hit the area and charged north through Georgia and into the Carolinas and Virginia, wreaking havoc and causing emergencies.
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.
"People have no idea how hard Hurricane Michael has hit the great state of Georgia", Mr. Trump tweeted. "I will be visiting both Florida and Georgia early next week". Several hours passed before emergency officials could reach the unincorporated area where the girl was killed, county emergency management director Travis Brooks said.
People drive along a damaged road in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.
Almost entire blocks of small two-story houses were swept away during the hurricane, presumably by storm surges that reached up to nine feet (2.7 meters).
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If the Waffle House hasn't reopened after the storm, FEMA considers that a sign that the area has experienced major devastation. And she estimated that it would take the same amount of time to fix the damage - possibly months or even a year.
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