Hurricane Michael: 17 dead, Coastal Florida cities damaged beyond recognition

Pat Wise
October 14, 2018

An online outage map shows reported outages and estimated restoration times.

More than 1,700 search and rescue workers were deployed, including seven swift-water rescue teams and almost 300 ambulances, Florida Governor Rick Scott's office said. "Right now I just need communication", said Mullins of not having cell phone service.

Officials, meanwhile, set up distribution centers outside big stores such as Wal-Mart and Publix to pass out food and water to victims.

In the meantime, more than 17,000 utility workers are busy restoring power to 245,000 Florida homes and businesses still without electricity. "A lot of people's concerned, and everybody's anxious", Millender said.

FEMA's Long urged communities such as Mexico Beach, where many homes were obliterated by 12 to 14 feet (3.7 to 4.3 meters) of storm surge, to rebuild to withstand future storms.

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, tempers are flaring, and power could be out for weeks.

"People have no idea how hard Hurricane Michael has hit the great state of Georgia", Trump said in a tweet.

Buildings in Panama City were crushed, tall pine trees were sent flying and a steeple was knocked off a church.

Homes destroyed after Hurricane Michael smashed into Florida's northwest coast in Mexico Beach, October 11, 2018.

Scott has now called up 4,000 members of the Florida National Guard to deal with the deadly storm. Almost 2,000 law-enforcement officials have been sent into the Panhandle.

The toll is expected to rise further as search and rescue efforts continue.

The number of dead was expected to rise, but authorities scrapped plans for setting up a temporary morgue, indicating they had yet to see signs of mass casualties from the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental almost 50 years. Volunteer organizations are also setting up mobile kitchens across the region and plan to distribute 10,000 meals alone in the Panama City region.

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- 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.

But the all-volunteer group CrowdSource Rescue said its search teams were trying to locate more than 2,100 people.

"Hurricane Michael is the worst storm that the Florida panhandle has ever seen, and one of the worst power storms to ever make landfall in the United States", Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at a press conference Wednesday night.

Catastrophic scenes have emerged across the Florida Panhandle, but none perhaps worse than in Mexico Beach, described as ground zero of the devastation.

POWER RESTORATION. Utility workers fix power lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida, on October 12, 2018.

The parents of an 11-year-old Georgia girl who was killed after being hit in the head by a portable structure that crashed into her grandparents' home say Sarah Radney "lit up everything". 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.

Appalachian Power reported around 9,000 customer outages as of late Saturday morning.

As Michael plows northward up the Atlantic seaboard, the governors of North and SC urged residents to brace for more heavy rain and storm-force winds.

Power and cellphone service are starting to be restored in parts of Florida's storm-battered Panhandle.

About a million people remained in the dark Friday morning after Hurricane Michael left a trail of destruction that claimed at least six lives, flattened entire towns and "shattered" electrical grids.

WMBB's General Manager Terry Cole said his staff worked and slept at a church next door Wednesday into Thursday.

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