Monday, 19 November, 2018

Florida officials fear Michael's death toll will rise

Pres. Trump declares state of emergency in Alabama after Hurricane Michael Andrew Gillum temporarily halts campaign to focus on hurricane efforts, canceling Orlando debate
Theresa Hayes | 14 October, 2018, 20:15

Some 30 km west of Mexico Beach, the school gym of Panama City has become the symbol of the devastation caused by Michael in this Florida town, where residents began to return on Saturday to search for their belongings among the rubble.

Rescuers have located hundreds of people who had been missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, but many are still unaccounted for, according to a report.

Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a former emergency management chief for the state of Florida, said "this is what we expect with storm surge and high wind events".

Across the storm-hit United States region, relief efforts were shaping up.

Mexico Beach, about halfway between Port St. Joe and Panama City, was hit hardest of all the Panhandle cities, but every neighborhood along the Gulf Coast was ravaged to one degree or another.

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

Large parts of the state's panhandle were pulverized by the strong winds and rain, and eight storm-related deaths have been reported in Florida so far.

At least 18 people have been killed in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia and hundreds more remain missing after one of the most powerful storms in the USA battered the region, according to the state officials.

Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban, leader of a search-and-rescue unit that entered Mexico Beach, said Friday that the team confirmed one fatality andis still trying to determine if there are others.

Looking for Survivors A first responder looks over damage following Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida on October 13, 2018.

Montgomery recalled passing a line of collapsed homes and seeing a woman sitting on a folding chair, smiling and waving even though her entire house had vanished.

"Hope is that even if the storm does come, even if I lose my vehicle, my house, my family, even if I lose my life, blessed be God", he said.

"This is the worst it's ever been", she said. "All these electrical poles and water lines are busted".

"Over the past several days I have been unable to participate in dozens of campaign events, and this week that will include our participation in the debate sponsored by Telemundo 31 Orlando", Gillum later said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, I think you're going to see that number climb", Long said. So he stashed them in a closet before heading to his daughter's new two-story home. "Mexico Beach, there's no barrier island out there to protect it so it got the full force of the Category 4 wind and that wall of water".

It warned of damaging winds and possible flash flooding in North Carolina and states just to the north and said the storm was still packing winds of 50 miles per hour.

As of Sunday, more than 435,000 customers are still without power in seven states from Florida to Virginia.

"I can tell you that I love you all day long, or I can show you that I love you", he told CBN News.

"I didn't recognize nothing", said 25-year-old Tiffany Marie Plushnik, an evacuee who returned to a home in Sandy Creek too damaged to live in.

Jeff Pearsey, 48, said: "We're probably done with Panama City".

According to the National Hurricane Center, Michael had moved into the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Norfolk, Virginia by early Friday morning.

Officials said, thousands of people are being reported missing to local authorities.