Hurricane Michael Death Toll May Rise as Rescue Efforts Continue

Charlene Craig
October 15, 2018

Responders are still trying to tally up the damage done by Hurricane Michael, including the death toll, which continues to rise.

More than 200,000 customers went without power across Virginia when Michael swept through the state as a tropical storm, after originally being a Category 4 hurricane when it first made landfall on the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday. Few structures appeared to survive without damage, and many were destroyed, scoured down by wind and water to slabs.

In Mexico Beach, Florida, the tiny Gulf of Mexico coastal hamlet virtually wiped off the us map by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael, the reality of the long path to recovery is becoming apparent.

She said local television stations were knocked off the air for two days, and authorities were relying on the Gulf State College radio station to transmit public service bulletins.

Authorities reported that no prisoners or staff were harmed, according to the AP.

Mexico Beach, where the hurricane came ashore, suffered massive destruction from the 155 mile per hour (250 kph) winds and several feet (meters) of storm surge. Desperate family members have flooded social media with pleas as they search for people who, in some cases, were stranded somewhere without cell service.

"Quiet, idyllic, what I call 'Old Florida, '" Fugate said.

In Gadsden County, Florida, the sheriff's office said Thursday they had four "storm-related fatalities following Hurricane Michael", although they had only confirmed the details of one death: a man killed when a tree crashed through the roof of his home.

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The majority of FlyBe flights to and from Belfast City Airport were also canceled between 06.00 a.m. and 09.30 a.m. A 21-year-old man was killed after a landslip in Carmarthenshire and many homes and businesses were flooded.

FOX 13's Jennifer Holton photographed an American flag propped up with sandbags in Mexico Beach.

More than 1,700 search and rescue workers have been deployed, Governor Rick Scott's office said in a statement, including seven swift-water rescue teams and almost 300 ambulances. Utility poles were bent, snapped and dangling limply from wires throughout Mexico Beach and nearby areas hammered by the storm.

Beachfront buildings, many amounting to people's life savings, were lifted off their foundations and destroyed or swept away.

State officials said they airdropped food and water into the hardest-hit counties.

Gov. Rick Scott tweeted Saturday that millions of meals and gallons of water were on the way to affected communities.

President Donald Trump plans to visit Florida and Georgia on Monday to see the damage.

"Everybody we knew lost their house".

FEMA crews used heavy equipment, sniffer dogs, drone aircraft and global positioning satellites in their search.

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Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban, leader of a search-and-rescue unit that went into the flattened town, said: "There are individuals who are deceased".

Emergency officials said they had done an initial "hasty search" of 80% of the stricken area, looking for the living or the dead.

Michael crashed ashore near Mexico Beach on Wednesday afternoon as one of the most powerful storms in United States history, with winds of up to 155 miles per hour (250 kph).

"Everything is time consuming", said Capt. Ignatius Carroll, of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue task force.

U.S. media have reported one death in the town - the body of an elderly man was found hundreds of yards (meters) from his home. It was unclear whether that was the same death referred to by the police chief.

'If we lose only one life, to me that's going to be a miracle, ' Cathey said. Searchers planned to cut through the tangle of debris to explore further.

Early estimates of insured losses from Hurricane Michael are $2 billion to more than $10 billion, potentially larger than estimated losses of $2 billion to $5 billion from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall last month in the Carolinas. After Michael barreled into the Florida Panhandle, it made its way to southwest Georgia and SC - while also lashing North Carolina and Virginia.

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