Published: Sun, October 14, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

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

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

Just a few days after Hurricane Michael which is the most powerful hurricane to hit the Florida panhandle made landfall Michiana native Kevin Sauer is lending a helping hand.

"I've watched on television, thinking of what others have experienced, like in the Carolinas and Texas", Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey told reporters referring to earlier hurricanes. Hurricane Michael has left several thousand residents on Florida's panhandle without power.

Authorities said the full extent of devastation would not be known until after daybreak in Florida on Thursday. "Hopefully it doesn't rise dramatically but it does remain a possibility", he added.

According to reports, Hurricane Michael has left behind a trail of massive destruction even as the death toll has gone up to 17 from what is being described as 'one of the most powerful storms to make landfall in the USA mainland'.

Six Florida counties remain under curfews, as work crews try to push debris off of roads so utility and emergency crews can start to fix the damage and reach people who need help after one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S.

There's no water, no power and emergency officials have no access to many towns from the Florida Panhandle to Virginia. "I've got two trees on the roof and a couple of holes on the roof". "Can't tell the difference between what I've picked and what I haven't".

Sitting in a red pickup just steps away from her damaged home, Gayle Sweet recalled the last moments she shared with her husband. "I just have to be hopeful that [the town] will be rebuilt and fixed". "Everything's gone. I didn't even know our road was our road", said Tiffany Marie Plushnik, 25, an evacuee who returned to find her home in Sandy Creek too damaged to live in.

At least eight people, including Sweet, have died in Florida. One of the carport's legs punctured the roof and hit her in the head. Two out of the three people who were killed in North Carolina died when their vehicle struck a tree that had fallen because of high winds, said Adrienne Jones, deputy director for the McDowell County Emergency Medical Services.

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Five people died in Virginia.

State and local officials have sought to avoid a repeat of problems previous year that authorities say led to the deaths of Broward County nursing-home residents after Hurricane Irma. In Panama City alone, the fire department has received more than 200 calls asking it to check on people there, but the department hasn't had the resources to do so for all of them, Panama City Fire Chief Alex Baird said.

Schools will stay closed indefinitely, a hospital halted operations and sent 200 patients to hospitals elsewhere in Florida and in Alabama, and some residents were packing up and getting as far away as they could.

They also said that 80 percent of cellphone service has been restored throughout the region hit by Hurricane Michael.

As one Panama City, Fla., resident told NPR's Debbie Elliott, "This whole town's destroyed". No one has heard from them since Wednesday afternoon. "The whole building is shaking". He said there was a lot of rain and wind where he was, but no major damage from the storm. Cleanup crews were present when a CNN crew stopped by on Friday. But the office was pretty much empty - the journalists were all out reporting 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.

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere create an energy imbalance, with more than 90% of remaining heat trapped by the gases going into the oceans. In the storm's wake lay crushed and flooded buildings, shattered lives and at least 15 deaths that state and local officials have linked to the storm, with authorities investigating another three deaths. Storm surge is worse now than it was 100 years ago, thanks to the rise in sea levels. Numerous 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated.

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