Research

Hurricane Michael kills 17 in United States, death toll expected to rise

Hurricane Michael kills 17 in United States, death toll expected to rise

Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane - the strongest on record to hit the area - and charged north through Georgia and into the Carolinas and Virginia, wreaking havoc and causing emergencies.

The primary school, the flight line, the marina and the runways were devastated.

But widespread power outages and disruptions in landline and cellular phone networks hampered authorities' communications with each other and the public, said Ruth Corley, a spokeswoman for the Bay County Sheriff's Department. "Hopefully it doesn't rise dramatically but it does remain a possibility", he added.

They said it was still not clear how many people stayed put and would need rescuing. "An enormous amount of 911 calls are going unresponded to because we've got this priority to search and rescue".

Search teams continued to pick their way through the ruins of Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town of about 1,000 people that was almost wiped off the map when Michael blew ashore there on Wednesday with devastating 155 miles per hour winds. While we've grown used to many "false alarms" in terms of precisely how bad approaching storms may be, Michael overperformed by a significant margin.

Michael was one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the U.S. While most residents fled ahead of the storm's arrival, others stayed to face the hurricane.

Yesterday, over 1.4 million utility customers from Florida to Virginia were without power. Hanson asked. "This city is destroyed". "There's not one local business that's operational". "Do you think it would have floated away?" "I just have to be hopeful that [the town] will be rebuilt and fixed".

Michael Williams, 70, looks for help from passing motorists as downed trees prevent him from driving out of his damaged home in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael with his family in Springfield, Fla., on Thursday.

Michael's impact across the southern Mid-Atlantic states and the Carolinas, though, will be minor compared to its trail of destruction in the Florida Panhandle.

"But you know what ... it's just stuff, it's just stuff", she told her husband, Raoul, as they walked through the ruins. Cleanup crews were present when a CNN crew stopped by on Friday. "I don't know what I'm going to do", said Williams.

Of the 17 killed in the storm, eight were located in Florida. An 11-year-old girl died in Georgia when a carport came crashing through the roof.

Three other people died in Gadsden County, Hightower said. Four drowned while the fifth person, a firefighter, was killed when a tractor trailer lost control on a rainy highway and hit his truck in Hanover County, Virginia.

State emergency management officials reported Saturday that almost 264,000 customers remain without electricity in the state. "Can't tell the difference between what I've picked and what I haven't". Patients were moved out of hurricane-damaged hospitals and nursing homes. I previously wrote about the politics of calculating hurricane deaths and how the numbers can be inflated by including people who died months after the storm has passed.

"Hurricane Michael arrived before most of the state farmers had started harvest for the season - specifically for pecans, peanuts and cotton", Tasnim Shamma reports from Atlanta member station WABE, for NPR's Newscast unit.

Panama City's two biggest TV stations, ABC affiliate WMBB and NBC affiliate WJHG, have been off the air for days.

WMBB general manager Terry Cole said his staff worked and slept at a next-door church Wednesday into Thursday.

The daily paper, the Panama City News Herald, still has no power. But the office was pretty much empty - the journalists were all out reporting on stories.

If the body count remains as low as is now expected, it will be because Michael hit a modern, developed region with established infrastructure, solid communications, experience in dealing with storms and a disaster prevention plan in place.

Photo Courtesy of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The storm dumped 4 to 8 inches of rain across a swath of Virginia, possibly more in some areas, said Jeffrey Stern, the state's emergency management coordinator. Storm surge is worse now than it was 100 years ago, thanks to the rise in sea levels.

"So many lives have been changed forever".