A state of emergency was declared in Florida and Georgia. Nine people have been declared dead in Florida, five in Virginia, three in North Carolina and one in Georgia due to devastation caused by Hurricane Michael. The death toll is expected to rise across the four states since there are dozens of people still missing. Destroyed buildings in Mexico Beach and Panama city are being scoured by recovery teams to find missing more victims.
Recovery and rescue is becoming harder as all the four states are living without power and are covered with large amount of fallen trees and debris. Since roads are blocked, many survivors are unable to receive food or water supplies.
City Mayor Al Cathey told ABC news on Sunday that 46 people remained missing or unaccounted for.
“I hope we don’t see it climb dramatically but I have reasons to believe we still haven’t got into some of the hardest-hit areas,” he said.
Despite warnings and mandatory evacuation orders many people had decided to stay rather than evacuate, and in Mexico Beach it is believed at least 285 people among a population of 1,000 had stayed behind, most of which are currently missing and lack of phone coverage is making it hard to reach those people.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said more than 1,700 rescue workers have been deployed to help in ” Mexico Beach and said the area resembles “a war zone”.
Hurricane Michael is considered one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the US and struck on Wednesday with 155mph (250km/h) winds, as it has caused more damage than Hurricane Florence.
President Donald Trump and First lady Melania Trump are expected to visit the storm-hit region on Monday.
“Will be leaving for Florida and Georgia with the First Lady to tour the hurricane damage and visit with FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement. Maximum effort is taking place, everyone is working very hard. Worst hit in 50 years,” Trump tweeted before leaving the White House Monday morning.
Governor Scott has warned local authorities that many might find their homes have been destroyed and so will need emergency accommodation locally as the hurricane hit inland and many have started moving out of shelters.
Temporary long-term field hospitals in the north-west need to be set up as several hospitals were damaged by the storm in Panama City and Florida.
Panama City fire chief Alex Baird said “electricity and phone services were gradually being restored but warned that a full recovery could take weeks.”