Rescuers find first body in town worst hit by hurricane Michael

Katie Ramirez
October 13, 2018

AFTER THE STORM. A truck stops while surveying the road destroyed during Hurricane Michael near Eastpoint, Florida, on October 12, 2018.

Residents of Mexico Beach were forced to evacuate but state officials said 285 residents chose not to heed the mandatory evacuation order - leading the Florida National Guard to enter the area on Wednesday and rescue 20 survivors. Rescuers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) used dogs, drones and Global Positioning System in the search.

"Right now the focus is truly on life safety and making sure we are helping people who may be trapped", said Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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

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"To just sort of check out various neighborhoods, to try to ensure that we're not missing anybody", Gillum said.

According to reports, Hurricane Michael has left behind a trail of massive destruction even as the death toll has gone up to 17 from what is being described as 'one of the most powerful storms to make landfall in the United States mainland'. "Mexico Beach, there's no barrier island out there to protect it, so it got the full force of the Category 4 wind and that wall of water". Four people died in Gadsden County and three died in Jackson County, in addition to one recovered so far in Mexico Beach, located in Bay County.

Over 1.4 million homes had no power in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas on Friday morning.

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"We were just surprised by the sheer damage", Jadallah said of arriving in Mexico Beach after Hurricane Michael.

The images, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, show severe damage in Mexico Beach, Florida, which took an nearly direct hit from one of the most powerful storms to make landfall on the USA mainland.

Bob Tenbrunson, a Mexico Beach retiree, rode out the storm at his daughter's house in nearby Panama City and returned to survey the damage to his home.

Hundreds of thousands of people remain without electricity in Florida, Georgia and Virginia, and officials say it could be weeks before power is fully restored.

The storm inflicted significant damage in the Carolinas, including flash flooding, downed trees on roads, and people who needed to be rescued from flood waters. It looked a couple of days ago like it was not going to be much, and now it's looking like it could be a very big one, so we're prepared.

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center treated some but the hospital evacuated 130 patients as it faced challenges running on generators after the storm knocked out power, ripped off part of its roof and smashed windows, according to a spokesman for the hospital's owner, HCA Healthcare Inc.

More than a dozen school districts announced they would either be closed Friday or would have two and three hour delays, reported WTVD.

Emergency services carried out dozens of rescues of people caught in swiftly moving floodwaters in North Carolina on Thursday.

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