Published: Sun, October 14, 2018

17 dead, 763,000 without power in Michael's aftermath

17 dead, 763,000 without power in Michael's aftermath

Rescuers are picking their way through devastated areas of north-west Florida, in the United States (US), amid fears that the death toll from Hurricane Michael will rise.

Beyond Florida, five storm-related deaths were reported in Virginia - including that of a fireman whose firetruck was struck by a semitrailer truck.

Volunteer search-and-rescue networks formed during previous flood disasters in Texas and Louisiana sprang into action in Florida this week following Hurricane Michael, providing a boost to authorities hit by electricity and communications outages.

Marchetti said the search teams, made up mostly of off-duty police and firefighters, also had either rescued or accounted for 345 other individuals reported to Houston-based CrowdSource Rescue. Officials predicted rebuilding costs in the billions.

Sarah had just started the sixth grade and joined the drama club and the band. "It was terrible, and now there's just nothing left".

Almost 1.5 million people in the southeast were without power as of Friday morning, further hindering recovery efforts.

- 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.

Search teams used dogs for people killed or trapped in debris, including in hardest-hit Mexico Beach.

Schools will stay closed indefinitely, a hospital halted operations and sent 200 patients to hospitals elsewhere in Florida and in Alabama, and more than 253,000 customers in the Panhandle remain without power. Aluminum siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees.

Hundreds of residents were rescued Thursday from cars, apartments and homes flooded by rushing water.


Administrator Brock Long (C) speaks during a briefing on Hurricane Michael at FEMA headquarters in Washington, DC., on October 12, 2018.

On the Panhandle, Tyndall Air Force Base "took a beating", so much so that Colonel Brian Laidlaw told the 3,600 men and women stationed on the base not to come back. Numerous 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated.

The hurricane's eyewall passed directly overhead, severely damaging almost every building and leaving many a complete loss.

'We are in new territory, ' National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. "At this time I can't tell you how long that will take, but I'm on it", Laidlaw said.

Governor Rick Scott said state officials still "do not know enough" about the fate of those who stayed behind in the region.

"So many lives have been changed forever". So many families have lost everything.

Reuters reported that it could be weeks before power is restored in parts of the Florida panhandle, where Michael hit on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle. Three people died in North Carolina, all due to falling trees, and a young girl was killed in Georgia when debris was blown through the roof of her grandparents' home. Four of them drowned, including James King of Dry Fork, Virginia. Emergency officials said they had completed an initial "hasty search" of the devastation, looking for the living or the dead, and had begun more careful inspections of ruined buildings. But emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings.

"We had houses that were on one side of the street and now they're on the other", said Mayor Bo Patterson, who watched trees fly by his window as he rode out the storm in his home seven blocks from the beach. But the fate of many residents was unknown.

Decambre said she had opened her home to a friend who takes care of three elderly women. "Do you think it would have floated away?" Others include Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland.

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