Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Death toll from Michael seen rising as Florida towns remain cut off

Death toll from Michael seen rising as Florida towns remain cut off Death toll from Michael seen rising as Florida towns remain cut off
Theresa Hayes | 13 October, 2018, 13:54

Michael Williams, 70, looked for help from passing motorists for food and water as trees prevent him from returning home.

"I lost everything", Morales said.

It was the third strongest storm on record to hit the continental United States, behind only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.

12 people have been killed across four states, and the whereabouts of 280 people in Florida was known as of Thursday.

Efforts to rebuild will begin after homes and roads were smashed and trees downed.

In total, Boston-based Karen Clark & Company estimated $8 billion in insured losses due to the storm - which they said includes "privately insured wind and storm surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties and also automobiles".

Devastating tropical hurricane Michael, which covered the American state of Georgia on Wednesday, claimed the lives of 11 people.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he would visit Florida and Georgia next week.

"I think you're going to see it climb", Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said of the death count at a news conference. "Hopefully it doesn't rise dramatically but it does remain a possibility".

Zahralban said searchers, who were using a trained dog, were trying to determine if that person had been alone or was part of a family.

Numerous injured in Florida were taken to hard-hit Panama City, 32 kilometres northwest of Mexico Beach.

"When state and local officials tell you to get out, dang it, do it. Get out", he said. "Their specialties range from damage assessment to medical missions to search & rescue", FEMA tweeted on Thursday.

"I've watched on television, thinking of what others have experienced, like in the Carolinas and Texas", Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey told reporters.

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.

"Never ends, but we're all prepared and hopefully it won't be as bad as it's looking. This is obviously the worst", said Stephanie Palmer, a FEMA firefighter and rescuer from Coral Springs, Fla.

The concern was for people who ignored evacuation orders ahead of the storm and stayed put in communities that were demolished by Michael's ferocity on Wednesday.

In Apalachicola, about 48 kilometres east of where the storm made landfall, a little less than half of the 2,200 people stayed and rode out the storm, residents said.

According to the National Hurricane Center, it could strengthen into a major Category 3 hurricane with winds topping 111 miles per hour before it reaches Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday.

The number of fatalities is expected to rise further as rescuers go door to door and comb through the rubble in Mexico Beach and other Florida coastal communities such as Port St. Joe and Panama City.