Searches in­ten­sify af­ter body is found in hur­ri­cane’s wake

The Republican Herald - - NATION/ WORLD - By RUSS BYNUM and Bren­dan far­ring­ton

MEX­ICO BEACH, Fla. — Res­cuers in­ten­si­fied ef­forts Satur­day to find sur­vivors who might be trapped amid the ru­ins of a small Florida Pan­han­dle com­mu­nity nearly oblit­er­ated by Hur­ri­cane Michael, where one body has al­ready been re­cov­ered, tem­pers are flar­ing, and power could be out for weeks.

Crews with dogs went door- to- door in Mex­ico Beach, push­ing aside de­bris to get in­side badly dam­age struc­tures in a sec­ond wave of searches fol­low­ing what they de­scribed as an ini­tial, “hasty” search of the area. About 1,700 search and res­cue per­son­nel have checked 25,000 homes, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.

Au­thor­i­ties say there is lit­tle doubt the death toll will rise from the storm, which made land­fall Wed­nes­day as a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane with 155 mph winds and heavy storm surge. The tally of lives lost across the South stood at 14, in­clud­ing the vic­tim found in the rub­ble of Mex­ico Beach, where about 1,000 peo­ple live.

“Ev­ery­thing is time con­sum­ing,” said Capt. Ig­natius Car­roll, of the South Florida Ur­ban Search and Res­cue task force. “You don’t want to put a rush on a thor­ough res­cue.”

More roads were pass­able along the storm­rav­aged coast as crews cleared downed trees and power lines, but traf­fic lights re­mained out and long lines height­ened ten­sions at one of the area’s few open gas sta­tions.

“I want you to get back in your ve­hi­cle and stop!” one woman shouted at a man ac­cost­ing her as she tried to squeeze her car be­tween two idling ve­hi­cles at a Panama City ser­vice sta­tion run­ning two fuel pumps on a gen­er­a­tor.

“You’re an id­iot!” the man shouted back. About 4,000 mem­bers of Florida’s na­tional guard have been called up to deal with the

storm, in­clud­ing 500 added on Satur­day. Nearly 2,000 law- en­force­ment of­fi­cials have been sent into the Pan­han­dle.


Mem­bers from South Florida Task Force on Fri­day search a flat­tened home de­stroyed by Hur­ri­cane Michael in Mex­ico Beach, Fla.

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