Search Crews Look for the Dead and the Living in Florida

Search Crews Look for the Dead and the Living in Florida

Search Crews Look for the Dead and the Living in Florida

Searchers on Friday found the first body in the rubble of the Florida coastal town of Mexico Beach, which was almost obliterated by Hurricane Michael, as the toll from the historic storm rose to at least 17 and was expected to rise.

Under a perfectly clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged tentatively from darkened shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

Search teams - working by air, boat and on the ground - have entered Panama City, Mexico Beach, Alligator Point, Eastpoint, St. George Island and Apalachicola.

Nearby Panama City Beach experienced similar damage along with other communities along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

About 32km south of Mexico Beach, floodwaters were more than 2.1 metres deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane centre chief Ken Graham said.

FEMA said those were just initial counties, and it would likely add more counties as more damage assessments are done.

Five deaths were reported in Virginia, in addition to four in Florida, one in Georgia and one in North Carolina.

Hurricane Michael tears Florida towns apart, six dead
Almost 950,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida , Alabama, the Carolinas and Georgia on yesterday. In Panama City, buildings were crushed, tall pine trees were sent flying and a steeple was knocked off a church.

Zahralban says teams on their first sweep of Mexico Beach on Thursday rescued some people with minor injuries and helped others who rode out the storm and found themselves with no way to leave. It moved so fast that people didn't' have much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

Florida will give each of the impacted county 200 generators, so they can power their traffic lights, Scott said.

FEMA crews have been using bulldozers and other heavy equipment to push a path through debris to allow rescuers to probe the rubble with specially trained search dogs.

Michael made landfall on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm, the most powerful to hit Florida's northwestern Panhandle in more than a century.

President Trump described the hurricane as "unbelievably destructive and powerful", contrasting it with last year's Hurricane Harvey, which caused in 106 US deaths and massive flooding as it drifted for a week between Texas and Louisiana.

But because Hurricane Michael hit in October, and temperatures in north Florida have dropped in recent days with overnight lows in the 50s, Scott said he now wanted to make sure patients and nursing home residents are staying warm.

Except for the emergency-911 system, authorities in Bay County, the epicentre of the disaster, were virtually without telephone or internet service until late in the day on Friday, making communications internally and with the public hard.

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"Luckily we did not get a surge", Tenbrunson said of his home. "We're doing what we can with the minimal media that we have".

In Panama City, plywood and metal flew off the front of a Holiday Inn Express. U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 1st Class Colin Hunt/Handout via REUTERS. "Power outages is the least of our worries", said Coaker.

The storm, which came ashore as a category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, tore entire neighborhoods apart, reducing homes and businesses to piles of wood and siding, damaging roads and leaving scenes of devastation that resembled the aftermath of a carpet-bombing operation. "You want to check on things, and begin the recovery process", Mr. Scott said.

On the left, as we walk, there's a mattress slumped at the roadside, on the right a Dean Noontz novel lies in the dirt.

By Friday morning the remnants of Michael had moved into the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Norfolk, Virginia, but still could bring up to 5 inches (13 cm) of rain to parts of New England, the National Hurricane Center said.

More than 900,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Alabama, the Carolinas and Georgia on Thursday. The U.S. Coast Guard ran 10 rescue missions into the region Wednesday night.

"I have had employees going to the communities where our kids live, going door to door and checking", Principal Britt Smith by phone. "I just have to be hopeful that (the town) will be rebuilt and fixed".

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