Published: Sun, October 14, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Florida officials fear Hurricane Michael's death toll will rise

Florida officials fear Hurricane Michael's death toll will rise

Authorities say there is little doubt the death toll will rise from the storm, which made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane with 155 miles per hour winds (249 kph) and heavy storm surge.

At least one of those deaths are said to be caused by debris, flooding, or a storm-related crash.

The destruction has been especially severe in Mexico Beach, where the water, sewage and communications systems were destroyed, which could take months to fix.

Four people died in Gadsden County and three died in Jackson County, in addition to one recovered so far in Mexico Beach, located in Bay County.

Mr Marchetti said his volunteer search teams, consisting mostly of off-duty police officers and firefighters, had rescued or accounted for 345 others previously reported to CrowdSource Rescue.

The tally of lives lost across the South stood at 14, including the victim found in the rubble of Mexico Beach.

State officials were yesterday reporting that at least 18 people have been killed in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

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Authorities, however, have not been able to identify any of the victims yet.

"I expect the fatality count to rise today and tomorrow as we get through the debris", said Brock Long, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator on Friday morning.

"At sunrise, we'll start again on our search", Baird said.

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.

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power blocking emergency officials access to many towns.

The hurricane damaged hospitals and nursing homes in Panama City, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients.

More than 1,700 search-and-rescue workers - many veterans of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria a year ago and some of ground zero after 9/11 - are providing assistance in areas affected by the hurricane.

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Rescue teams, hampered by power and telephone outages, used cadaver dogs, drones and heavy equipment to search for people in the rubble.

Residents were concerned about the rebuilding process after the storm. The Coast Guard said it rescued 129 people.

The concern was for people who ignored evacuation orders ahead of the storm - which grew with surprising speed from a tropical storm into an extremely powerful hurricane in less than two days - and who stayed put in communities that were demolished by Michael's assault on Wednesday.

State Farm, Allstate and other national insurance companies have cut their exposure to Florida losses significantly since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Gov. Rick Scott said it may be time for Florida to boost its standards - considered the toughest in the nation- even further.

"Hopefully we will not (find more dead) but realistically it's a possibility", he said.

Boats lay among the debris from homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael (Chris O'Meara/AP) A bedroom of a destroyed house is pictured following Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, U.S., October 11, 2018. "Right now I just need communication", said Mullins of not having cell phone service.

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