Rescue efforts continue in USA amid hurricane Michael devastation

Monday, 15 Oct, 2018

The scientific research group Climate Central says unless the rate of greenhouse gas emissions changes, hurricanes are expected to intensify more rapidly in the coming decades.

Hurricane Michael made landfall on Mexico Beach, once an idyllic coastal town in Florida, now compared to a war zone, before tearing through Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.

One of the 17 deaths caused by the storm across four states occurred in Mexico Beach, an elderly man whose body was found hundreds of meters from his house.

Crews with dogs went door-to-door Saturday in Mexico Beach, pushing aside debris to get inside badly damaged structures in a second wave of searches following what they described as an initial, "hasty" search of the area.

"It was life or death", Garcia said through tears Friday as he walked amid the destruction in Mexico Beach.

Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban, leader of a search-and-rescue unit that entered the devastated community, said: "We have one confirmed deceased and are working to determine if there are others".

"It's OK if you want to live on the coast or on top of a mountain that sees wildfires or whatever but you have to build to a higher standard", he said.

Linda Marquardt and her husband managed to survive when Michael's eye passed directly over their Mexico Beach home, which was inundated by surging water as 155 miles per hour winds obliterated much of the city.

Flooding caused by the Category 4 hurricane washed out some roads and bridges, while others are impassible because of high standing water, downed power lines and massive amounts of debris, hampering search and rescue operations, and delaying the delivery of vital supplies to stranded residents. Florida National Guard troops distributed four truckloads of water and one truckload of MREs on Saturday. Almost 2,000 law-enforcement officials have been sent into the Panhandle.

Amber Gee of Callaway, Florida, found her grandmother and other relatives in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael by using the NOAA interactive satellite map.

At this time, more than 2,000 people are staying in Red Cross shelters. They worry about their kids getting into school.

Dave Mullins looks out over the damage in front of his home, seen in background left, where he rode out hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.

"I was checking on damages in the area on houses that belong to my family and I came across my grandma's house", said Gee, 24. "At my age it will be hard for me to get another job".

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

Panama City officials fear that the death toll could rise to double digits just in their area alone. "If we're going to rebuild, do it right".

A storage facility in Panama City Beach housing hundreds of boats was ripped apart by the strong winds with the roof shredding into strips of twisted metal.

At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm, which is the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental United States in over 50 years.

The concern was for people who ignored evacuation orders ahead of the storm - which grew with surprising speed from a tropical storm into an extremely powerful hurricane in less than two days - and who stayed put in communities that were demolished by Michael's assault on Wednesday.

Hector Morales, a 57-year-old cook, never thought of evacuating.

"I lost everything so I got to start over", he said near a tent in a parking lot where a Geico insurance agent was taking claims. "But I made it".

Consumer prices may be affected, too, as shipping goods into and out of the region is becoming more expensive.

One Panama City, Florida, resident told the broadcaster, "This whole town's destroyed".

Emergency officials said they have received thousands of calls asking about missing people. "But I have reasons to believe - we haven't gotten into some of the hardest hit areas, particularly the Mexico Beach area". They've also set up a triage tent to treat residents stepping on nails and cutting themselves on debris.

An emailed statement Sunday afternoon from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency said that included customers of Georgia Power, the cooperatvies of the Georgia Electric Membership Corporation and various municipalities.