The family and friends of the thousands of people still missing after Hurricane Michael are desperately searching for their loved ones as rescue teams discover bodies in the ruins and rubble along the Florida coast.
At least 16 people were killed when the hurricane – the fourth most powerful to ever hit the US – struck Florida on Wednesday and swept north through the Carolinas and Virginia leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.
Four people died in Gadsden County, Florida, while in Georgia, 11-year-old girl, Sarah Radney, was killed when a piece of metal carport crashed into her family’s trailer and struck her in the head.
Search and rescue teams have uncovered bodies in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael as thousands of people remain missing
A body is removed after being discovered during the search of a housing structure in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida on Friday
There were five deaths in Virginia, four from drowning, including 53-year-old William Lynn Tanksley and 45-year-old James E. King Jr. of Dry Fork, Virginia, who were both killed after being swept away from their vehicles by floodwaters on Thursday.
The fifth was Lt. Brad Clark, a Hanover County firefighter, who was killed while helping at the scene of a car crash Thursday when a tractor-trailer struck his fire engine. Authorities say two others in his crew were seriously injured. The truck driver had to be extricated and also suffered serious injuries.
And authorities fear the death toll will continue to rise as search teams have uncovered a number of bodies in the rubble of the ruined homes and businesses.
Rescue teams using sniffer dogs carried out a grim search for victims on Friday.
Joseph Zahralban, Miami’s fire chief, said that search teams found ‘individuals who are deceased’ among the devastation in Mexico Beach and surrounding Bay County.
Zahralban says teams had also rescued several people from Mexico Beach who found themselves trapped or injured after the storm.
Members of City Miami Fire Rescue look for victims in a building in Mexico Beach, Florida, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael on October 12
Pete Miller checks the remains of his house in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael on October 12
A CBP flight crew conducts search and rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael that left a swath of destruction across the area near Panama City, Florida, on October 11, 2018
Mexico Beach, Florida, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael on October 12, 2018. Rescue teams using sniffer dogs carried out a grim search for victims of Hurricane Michael on Friday amid fears that the death toll from the monster storm could rise
Thousands more are missing after the storm as family and friends desperately hunt for information on their whereabouts.
Mark Bowen, chief of emergency services in Bay County, said in Mexico Beach “a tremendous number of people” are “unaccounted for.’
In Charlotte County, crews were still looking for a grandmother who was swept away by rushing water. The county administrator said she is presumed dead.
Thankfully, plans to erect a temporary morgue have been scrapped – a sign that authorities don’t expect mass casualties.
‘I don’t think we know enough,’ Gov. Rick Scott said. ‘We’ve got to finish search and rescue. The other thing on top of that, a lot of people get hurt afterwards. That’s why we talk about: Make sure you know how to use generator.
‘Don’t put it inside your house. Be careful with all the chainsaws … and don’t touch downed power lines.’
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long says he expects the death toll from Hurricane Michael to climb because teams haven’t gotten to the hardest-hit areas in Florida.
Long said Friday that he’s worried people didn’t evacuate along Mexico Beach or from other devastated locations and may not have survived.
Long said ‘very few people’ live to tell what it’s like to experience a high storm surge. The waters rose about 14 feet (4 meters), pushing buildings aside.
Sarah Radney, 11, and Lieutenant Brad Clark from Station 6, were among the 13 confirmed victims of the hurricane
Mexico Beach, Florida, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael on October 12
Rex Buzzett, far left, his son Josh Buzzett and neighbor Hilda Duren stand outside the Buzzett’s home, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, that was gutted by a storm surge in Port St. Joe, Fla
Florida Gov. Rick Scott points out some damage caused by Hurricane Michael while flying somewhere over the panhandle of Florida Thursday
The FEMA director says the country doesn’t learn enough from past storms, and he’s concerned that residents will suffer from ‘hurricane amnesia’ when blue skies return.
He said it’s critically important to heed evacuation warnings and to build their homes cautiously and have the proper flood and damage insurance necessary to live in hurricane zones.
Long said he’d be traveling to Florida this weekend.
State emergency officials say that the search will continue for days but expect the number of missing people to go down as communications and power are restored.
Food, water and supplies have been dropped via helicopter to some of the more remote areas, like St. George Island, Apalachicola and Port St. Joe, state officials said.
State officials said about 432,000 people were still without power Friday afternoon, down from about 565,000 at the height of the storm.
Gov. Scott said that there were dozens of shelters open for people who had lost their homes in the storm.
MISSING: Family and friends are desperately searching for their loved ones who braved the storm. Pictured left is Agnes Vicari, 80, of Mexico Beach, and right is Mike Myers
MISSING:Joni Cain (left) and Wendy Williams-Rush, of South Port (right)
MISSING: Sheila Dady and her son Justin Downum (left) and Ronald Dean Gresham (right)
The family of John Reinhardt, of Port St. Joe in Bay County put out a desperate appeal for their grandfather (pictured). Thankfully, Reinhardt has been found
‘We have shelters open (and) as long as there’s a need they’re going to stay open,’ he said. ‘We’ll make sure we provide whatever is necessary. If it’s to keep people warm, we’ll keep people warm.’
Scott has opened up the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee to state troopers on their way to areas hit hard by Hurricane Michael.
Scott and first lady Ann Scott had dinner on Thursday with 50 troopers, 35 of whom slept in cots inside the mansion.
The governor’s office said it would continue to use the mansion as a shelter for law enforcement as ‘long as necessary.’
Most of Florida’s capital is without power, but the mansion has its own generators to provide electricity. The residence is located just north of the state Capitol.
President Donald Trump says he’ll visit Florida and Georgia early next week to assess damage from Hurricane Michael.
Trump announced his plans on Twitter on Friday but didn’t say what day he’ll visit the affected areas. Trump also tweeted that ‘people have no idea how hard Hurricane Michael has hit the great state of Georgia.’
Michael struck the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane earlier this week.
Trump says the administration is ‘working very hard on every area and every state that was hit. We are with you!’
North Carolina is also cleaning up from Hurricane Michael, the second major storm to rip through the state in a month.
Michael was downgraded to a Tropical Storm on Thursday as it took its drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas – just one day after unleashing deadly fury on Florida with its 155 mph winds
Gov. Roy Cooper urged the public to stay safe while damage is inspected and not to drive around road barriers. Many of the 40 deaths in North Carolina during Hurricane Florence were of drivers who got caught in floodwaters.
The governor said it wasn’t clear whether there was enough overall damage to qualify for federal aid to help with the cleanup. Congress already has approved $1 billion for North Carolina’s response to Florence.
Why was Hurricane Michael so strong?
Scientists say it was so strong because warm waters of 84F (29C) extended unusually far up the northern Gulf Coast for this time of year after Florida had its warmest September ever.
It was also strong because the eyewall – the ring around the eye of the storm – formed late.
This meant that there was not enough time for an eyewall replacement – a second ring formed of rainclouds – to form and weaken the storm.
Normally, the so-called eyewall replacement cycle weakens a storm by 20-30mph – but Michael was at its strongest when it made landfall.
Source: Dr Jeff Masters
Oil and gas workers are now returning to drilling rigs and production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, but oil production remains down by about one-third as operations are restarted.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a report Friday that 32.4 percent of oil production and a little more than 13 percent of natural gas production in the Gulf remained shut down. The agency bases its estimates on daily reports from operators.
The bureau says workers remained evacuated from only nine of the 687 staffed platforms in the Gulf, and that all unmoored rigs that were moved as the storm approached have returned to their drilling spots.
The Walt Disney Co. is donating $1 million for relief efforts to areas devastated by Hurricane Michael.
The company said Friday in a news release that the money will be funneled through the Florida Disaster Fund.
The news release also says contributions from employees to eligible relief groups will be matched dollar-for-dollar through a matching gifts program.
Disney has a 70,000-person workforce in Florida at its Walt Disney World theme park resort in the Orlando area.