Sci-tech

Florida officials raise Hurricane Michael's death toll to 16

Florida officials raise Hurricane Michael's death toll to 16

"If we lose only one life, to me that's going to be a miracle", Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey told Florida media.

Nancy Register sobbed uncontrollably after finding no trace of the large camper where she'd lived with her husband Taylor. She was particularly distraught over the loss of an old, black-and-white photo of her mother, who died of cancer.

An evening curfew remains in place, and residents will not be allowed to stay overnight.

During the helicopter tour, severe damage was visible in Florida's Panama City and Mexico Beach, near where the storm made landfall. Inland, in Calhoun County, 98 percent of the customers didn't have power Wednesday morning, according to the emergency management website.

In the meantime, in many areas devastated by the hurricane, law enforcement officials are battling looting of homes and businesses. In some parts of the county, residents have spray-painted signs warning that "looters will be shot".

One victim was Victoria Smith, who said thieves entered her home while she and her four children were sleeping. "They just snatched my purse out of my hands and ran".

The storm killed at least 16 people in Florida, a lot of them in the coastal county that took a direct hit from the storm, state emergency authorities announced Tuesday. The deaths were reported from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Rescue teams searched ravaged areas of Florida's Panhandle on Tuesday for hundreds of people reported missing almost a week after Hurricane Michael flattened communities in the region and killed at least 27. The Associated Press has put the overall death toll at 17 so far, including one death in Mexico Beach confirmed by a search and rescue team and six others confirmed by local officials in Florida. The office of Gov. Rick Scott (R) reported that more than 138,000 people still lacked electrical power as of Tuesday afternoon, many of them in the waterfront counties along the gulf and tracking inland across the panhandle along the storm's track.

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The town of about 1,200 residents took a direct hit from the hurricane.

Debris and downed trees and power lines have hampered access to stranded people but the group has said a number of its missing person reports resulted from widespread phone and power outages.

Pai called the lack of full cellular service "completely unacceptable" and said the FCC will open an investigation into each of the carrier's post-hurricane restoration efforts.

The president also traveling to Georgia, where he participated in a briefing in Macon with federal and state officials.

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile say they are endeavoring to restore service.

Ford said in an interview that the death toll could rise in Bay County, which includes Panama City. The telecommunications giant later announced it would give a three-month credit to every Verizon customer in Bay and Gulf counties. Panama City, Robinson's hometown, was one of the hardest-hit areas.

"I've been on the phone to reporters, to fire chiefs, to heads of task force from Miami to you name it I've called them".

"It's been better getting back to practice after going through what I've been going through for the last week", Robinson said Wednesday. "There were all kinds of messages, Facebook notifications, emails and emergency alerts".


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