Hur­ri­cane death toll seen ris­ing as Florida towns re­main cut off

SEARCH ON: Res­cue teams were go­ing door-to-door us­ing ca­daver dogs to look for peo­ple

Oman Daily Observer - - WORLD -

FLORIDA: The death toll was ex­pected to rise in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Michael as hun­dreds re­mained un­ac­counted for along the Florida Pan­han­dle where dec­i­mated com­mu­ni­ties re­mained cut­off and in the dark.

As of early on Satur­day, state of­fi­cials were re­port­ing that at least 18 have been killed in Florida, Ge­or­gia, North Carolina and Vir­ginia.

Res­cue teams, ham­pered by power and tele­phone out­ages, were go­ing door-to-door and us­ing ca­daver dogs, drones and heavy equip­ment to hunt for peo­ple in the rub­ble in Mex­ico Beach and other Florida coastal com­mu­ni­ties, such as Port St Joe and Panama City.

“We still haven’t got­ten into some of the hard­est-hit ar­eas,” said Brock Long, ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA) on Fri­day, not­ing that he ex­pects to see the num­ber of peo­ple killed climb.

The Hous­ton-based vol­un­teer search-and-res­cue net­work Crowdsource Res­cue said its teams were try­ing to find about 2,100 peo­ple ei­ther re­ported miss­ing or stranded and in need of help in Florida, co­founder Matthew Marchetti said.

So­cial me­dia web­sites were crowded with mes­sages from those try­ing to reach miss­ing fam­i­lies in Florida’s Bay and Gulf Coun­ties.

Marchetti said his vol­un­teer search teams, con­sist­ing mostly of off-duty po­lice of­fi­cers and fire­fight­ers, had res­cued or ac­counted for 345 oth­ers pre­vi­ously re­ported to Crowdsource Res­cue.

Michael crashed ashore near Mex­ico Beach on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon as one of the most pow­er­ful storms in US his­tory, with winds of up to 250 kph. It pushed a wall of sea­wa­ter in­land, caus­ing wide­spread flood­ing.

The trop­i­cal storm, which grew in less than two days into a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane on the five-step Saf­firsimp­son scale, tore apart en­tire neigh­bour­hoods in the Pan­han­dle, re­duc­ing homes to naked con­crete foun­da­tions or piles of wood and sid­ing.

FEMA crews have been us­ing bull­doz­ers and other heavy equip­ment to push a path through de­bris so res­cuers can sift the rub­ble us­ing spe­cially trained search dogs.

We still haven’t got­ten into some of the hard­est-hit ar­eas BROCK LONG Ad­min­is­tra­tor of FEMA

— AFP

View of the dam­age caused by Hur­ri­cane Michael in Mex­ico Beach, Florida.

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