Hurricane Michael Death Toll Rises as Rescuers Search for Survivors
- Author: Carolyn Briggs Oct 14, 2018,
Oct 14, 2018, 22:30
Hurricane Andrew killed 44 people in South Florida when it made landfall near Homestead on August 24, 1992.
In Gadsden County, Florida, the sheriff's office said Thursday they had four "storm-related fatalities following Hurricane Michael", although they had only confirmed the details of one death: a man killed when a tree crashed through the roof of his home. "All these electrical poles and water lines are busted".
The water receded within hours in some areas, and cleanup began Friday.
At this time, more than 2,000 people are staying in Red Cross shelters.
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.
The future of thousands of students also remains unclear. "There's nothing normal about where we are right now", Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt told CNN affiliate WMBB. Adults have been scared but imagine those little hearts.
As of Friday morning, more than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long warned on Friday that the death toll will likely climb. Roads were impassable and canals were choked with debris.
Panama City officials fear that the death toll could rise to double digits just in their area alone. Residents are walking through piles of debris, some assessing the damage and others trying to find food. Residents still unaccounted for could be trapped in isolated areas and crews need to go door-to-door because there is no power and cellphone service is spotty.
Fema crews have been using bulldozers and other heavy equipment to push a path through debris so rescuers can sift through the rubble using specially trained search dogs. But there is still no clear answer to the number of people presumed missing this soon after the storm's passage. They had damage to the roof and the infrastructure critical for security, authorities said.
Experts predict that more will be pronounced dead before the rescue effort is over.
Margaret Decambre, a 48-year-old gemologist, rode out the storm in her Panama City fourth-floor condo with her husband and three cats.
"I'm just glad he's not in pain anymore", Casteel said.
Aluminium siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees.
Patterson estimated 1,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed in his town of 3,500 people.
"I lost everything", Morales said.
At least eight people, including Sweet, have died in Florida. After Michael barreled into the Florida Panhandle, it made its way to southwest Georgia and SC - while also lashing North Carolina and Virginia.
Among those killed was a firefighter in Hanover County, Virginia, who was hit by a tractor-trailer while assisting with another accident on Interstate 295.
The Department of Corrections said Saturday that the inmates were evacuated from the Gulf Correctional Institution and Annex and a portion of Calhoun Correctional Institution.