Hurricane Michael kills 17 in U.S., death toll expected to rise

Hurricane Michael kills 17 in U.S., death toll expected to rise

Emergency officials said they had completed an initial "hasty search" of the devastation, looking for the living or the dead, and had begun more careful inspections of thousands of ruined buildings.

"I expect the fatality count to rise as we get through the debris", Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said on Friday.

Large areas of the coast of the Panhandle, including Mexico Beach and Panama City, were left in ruins. They assessed the damage and embraced each other.

A psychiatric hospital in Florida is isolated after downed trees blocked roads around Chattahoochee, and a tree caused a water line to break. Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center was treating some, but the hospital evacuated 130 patients as it faced challenges of running on generators after the storm knocked out power, ripped off part of its roof and smashed windows, a spokesman for the hospital's owner HCA Healthcare said in an email. The storm hacked a trail of catastrophic destruction in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia before finally heading back out over water. No tropical cyclone warnings or watches were in effect in the United States.

It warned of damaging winds and possible flash flooding in North Carolina and states just to the north and said the storm was still packing winds of 50 miles per hour.

"For me the cotton crop is as bad as it gets". I previously wrote about the politics of calculating hurricane deaths and how the numbers can be inflated by including people who died months after the storm has passed. "Can't tell the difference between what I've picked and what I haven't".

This grim news came on the heels of the announcement that eleven year old Sarah Radney, who had been safe inside her grandparents' Georgia home, was killed by storm debris that had come crashing through the roof. "I can't think of anything that is more related to hell than that".

One woman said her family hid in a closet, "All we heard was a lot of wind".

Sarah had just started the sixth grade and joined the drama club and the band. Aluminum siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees.

Three others died in Gadsden County, Hightower said.

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"When state and local officials tell you to get out, dang it, do it. Get out", he said.

Six people are dead in the storm's path, and authorities fear the toll could climb higher as search-and-rescue efforts continue.

Thousands of residents in the Florida Panhandle are slowly returning to their homes and discovering that everything or nearly everything they owned has been reduced to rubble.

"The track of the hurricane is nearly like you could name it the 'Southeast Cotton Industry Hurricane, ' because it's coming in to Panama City, and there's about 140,000 acres of cotton in the Florida Panhandle", David Ruppenicker, CEO of Southern Cotton Growers, told CNBC.

"But you know what ... it's just stuff, it's just stuff", she told her husband, Raoul, as they walked through the ruins. "We are all heartbroken seeing the place we live so devastated". Despite the destruction, the Rev. Luke Farabaugh and his congregation celebrated Mass on Thursday.

"I knew we could sit on the sink or we could stand on the sink if we had to", Summers said. "That is some good news, but for those half-million people that don't have power, we understand the frustration and we're doing everything we can". "We had furniture in our house that wasn't even our furniture". "Our reward isn't just in this life but in the life to come". - The coastal community of Mexico Beach.

Braun reported from Mexico Beach, Florida. "You're not going to recognize Mexico Beach".

The two deaths in North Carolina occurred in McDowell County when a auto struck a tree that had fallen across a road, officials said.

In Virginia, the Roanoke River jumped its banks and flooded nearby homes and businesses. By early Thursday, Michael had been downgraded to a tropical storm.

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere create an energy imbalance, with more than 90% of remaining heat trapped by the gases going into the oceans. Storm surge is worse now than it was 100 years ago, thanks to the rise in sea levels. So many families have lost everything.

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