Florida (October 13, 2018): The death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to at least 16 on Friday amid fears it would continue to climb as search-and-rescue teams scour the debris of the Florida town that bore the brunt of the monster storm.
“Mexico Beach is devastated,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said of the town where Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday.“It’s like a bomb went off,” Scott said as he toured the town of 1,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico. “It’s like a war zone.”
Rescue teams were using sniffer dogs in Mexico Beach on Friday in a grim search for victims who may be buried under the rubble in the debris-strewn community.
Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned that he expected the number of deaths to rise.
“I hope we don’t see it climb dramatically but I have reasons to believe we still haven’t got into some of the hardest hit areas,” he said.“What’s happening is search and rescue is trying to get into the rubble to make sure that there’s nobody covered up, trying to assess if there are additional casualties there,” Long added.
Dozens of structures in Mexico Beach — homes, shops, and restaurants — were lifted off their foundations by storm surge and 155-mile per hour (250 kph) winds and moved hundreds of feet inland or smashed to bits.
“Very few people live to tell what it’s like to experience storm surge,” Long said. “Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life.”
Earlier on October 12, the tropical storm Michael had claimed a life in North Carolina, bringing the total death toll from the storm to at least six.
The deaths illustrate the ripples of Michael’s devastation since it blasted the Florida Panhandle and then headed northeast.Michael left more than 350,000 people without power and entire neighbourhoods in ruins after making landfall Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane near Mexico Beach in Florida. Now, it’s causing flash flooding across portions of North Carolina and Virginia.
More than 486,000 people don’t have electricity in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.
Farmers are drastically seeing the effects of the storm. At least 53 poultry houses were destroyed in Georgia, where agriculture is the top industry, the state’s Department of Agriculture said. Many crops, such as vegetables and cotton, may also be affected.Catastrophic scenes have emerged across the Florida Panhandle, with Mexico Breach ground zero of the devastation.
“Mexico Beach was wiped out,” said Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
All lanes of I-10 between mile marker 85 to mile marker 166 in Florida are closed due to debris, Florida authorities said Thursday.After slamming Florida and lashing Georgia, Michael is now barreling through the storm-weary Carolinas. Tornadoes, dangerous winds and more flooding are possible in many of the same areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.
Michael is expected to dump up to 9 inches of rain in parts of North Carolina and Virginia, the National Hurricane Center said.