Hur­ri­cane Michael death toll hits 17

Kuwait Times - - International -

MEX­ICO BEACH: The death toll from Hur­ri­cane Michael has risen to at least 17 with fears it would con­tinue to climb more 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 to search for vic­tims who may be buried un­der the rub­ble in the de­bris-strewn com­mu­nity. US me­dia later re­ported one death in the town-an el­derly man found alone, ac­cord­ing to Mayor Al Cathey. Of­fi­cials said his body was found hun­dreds of yards from his home.

Brock Long, head of the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA), warned that he ex­pected the toll 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. Dozens of struc­tures in Mex­ico Beach-homes, shops and restau­rants-were lifted off their foun­da­tions by storm surge and 155 miles 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.”

‘Sticks’

State of­fi­cials said Mex­ico Beach was un­der manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­ders but some res­i­dents de­cided to stay and try to ride out the storm. “You hope that some­how at the last minute a bunch of peo­ple got up and left or went some­where else,” Florida Sen­a­tor Marco Ru­bio told CNN. Bob Ten­brun­son, a Mex­ico Beach re­tiree, rode out the storm at his daugh­ter’s house in nearby Panama City and re­turned to sur­vey the dam­age to his home.

“I was go­ing to stay here un­til it turned to a Cat 4,” he said. “So I fol­lowed the manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­der and left with my wife. “Luck­ily we did not get a surge,” Ten­brun­son said of his home. “I’ve got two trees on the roof and a cou­ple of holes on the roof. I have been try­ing to patch it up the best I can.” The rest of Mex­ico Beach did not fare as well, and most beach­front homes, restau­rants and stores were oblit­er­ated by the storm. “I spent my life sav­ings and re­tire­ment to stay here so I can’t sell it now,” Ten­brun­son said. “I just have to be hope­ful that (the town) will be re­built and fixed.”

Some res­i­dents ar­rived Fri­day with vans or mov­ing trucks, hop­ing to re­cover as many per­sonal ef­fects from their splin­tered homes as they could. Oth­ers came with noth­ing-as there was noth­ing left to save. Eight deaths from the storm have been re­ported in Florida, five in Vir­ginia, one in Ge­or­gia and three in North Carolina. The two deaths in North Carolina oc­curred in McDow­ell County when a car struck a tree that had fallen across a road, of­fi­cials said. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple re­main without elec­tric­ity in Florida, Ge­or­gia and Vir­ginia, and of­fi­cials say it could be weeks be­fore power is fully re­stored.

Trump to visit Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said he planned to visit Florida and Ge­or­gia. “Peo­ple have no idea how hard Hur­ri­cane Michael has hit the great state of Ge­or­gia,” Trump tweeted. “I will be vis­it­ing both Florida and Ge­or­gia early next week. We are work­ing very hard on ev­ery area and ev­ery state that was hi­tand we are with you!”

Michael was the most in­tense hur­ri­cane to strike the Florida Pan­han­dle since record keep­ing be­gan in 1851. Many of the dam­aged Florida build­ings were not built to with­stand a storm above the strength of a Cat­e­gory 3 hur­ri­cane on the five-level Saf­fir-Simp­son scale. About 5,000 US ser­vice­men were de­ployed to help with relief and re­cov­ery ef­forts, the Pen­tagon said, us­ing 100 he­li­copters and 1,800 high-wa­ter ve­hi­cles. Tyn­dall Air Force Base, home to F22 stealth fight­ers, suf­fered ex­ten­sive dam­age, ac­cord­ing to ae­rial pho­tos of the coastal fa­cil­ity. —AFP

—AFP

MEX­ICO BEACH: View of the dam­aged caused by Hur­ri­cane Michael in Mex­ico Beach, Florida.

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