THE LIV­ING AND THE DEAD

Searchers comb wreck­age for vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Michael

Calgary Sun - - NEWS -

MEX­ICO BEACH, Fla. — Flor­ida au­thor­i­ties fielded a bar­rage of calls about peo­ple miss­ing in Hur­ri­cane Michael’s af­ter­math as search-and-res­cue teams Fri­day made their way through flat­tened neigh­bour­hoods, look­ing for vic­tims dead or alive.

The death toll stood at 13 across the South.

The num­ber of dead was ex­pected to rise, but au­thor­i­ties scrapped plans to set up a tem­po­rary morgue, in­di­cat­ing they had yet to see signs of mass ca­su­al­ties from the most pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane to hit the con­ti­nen­tal U.S. in nearly 50 years.

Res­i­dents, mean­while, be­gan to come to grips with the de­struc­tion and face up to the un­cer­tainty that lies ahead.

“I didn’t rec­og­nize noth­ing. Ev­ery­thing’s gone. I didn’t even know our road was our road,” said 25-year-old Tif­fany Marie Plush­nik, an evac­uee who re­turned to find her home in Sandy Creek too dam­aged to live in.

When she went back to the ho­tel where she took shel­ter from the storm, she found out she could no longer stay there ei­ther be­cause of mould.

“We’ve got to fig­ure some­thing out. We’re start­ing from scratch, all of us,” Plush­nik said.

Across the rav­aged re­gion, of­fi­cials set up dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres to hand out food and wa­ter to vic­tims.

Some sup­plies were brought in by trucks, while oth­ers had to be de­liv­ered by he­li­copter be­cause roads had yet to be cleared of de­bris.

Pres­i­dent Trump an­nounced plans to visit Flor­ida and hard-hit Ge­or­gia early next week but didn’t say what day he’d ar­rive. “We are with you!” he tweeted.

Search teams con­tin­ued to pick their way through the ru­ins of Mex­ico Beach, the ground-zero town of about 1,000 peo­ple that was nearly wiped off the map when Michael blew ashore Wed­nes­day with dev­as­tat­ing 249km/h winds.

Blocks and blocks of homes were de­mol­ished.

State of­fi­cials said that by one count, 285 peo­ple in Mex­ico Beach de­fied manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­ders and stayed be­hind.

Whether any of them got out at some point was un­clear.

Emer­gency of­fi­cials said they’ve re­ceived thou­sands of calls ask­ing about miss­ing peo­ple.

But with cell­phone ser­vice out across vast swaths of the Flor­ida Pan­han­dle, of­fi­cials said it’s pos­si­ble that some of those unaccounted for are safe and just haven’t been able to con­tact friends or fam­ily to let them know.

Gov. Rick Scott said state of­fi­cials still “do not know enough” about the fate of those who stayed be­hind in the re­gion.

“We are not com­pletely done. We are still get­ting down there,” the gover­nor added.

Dam­aged boats sit among the de­bris in a ma­rina in Panama City, Fla., yes­ter­day in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Michael.

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