Florida National Guard still looking for victims and survivors after Hurricane Michael
Death toll continues to rise as search-and-rescue teams find bodies in Mexico Beach, the hardest town hit by Hurricane Michael.
According to Time magazine, residents were under mandatory evacuation orders but state officials told Time 285 residents chose to stay. 20 survivors were rescued by the Florida National Guard after the storm hit last Wednesday. The guard still is looking for victims and survivors and assessing the damages to Mexico Beach populated by 1,200 residents.
Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban is leading the search-and-rescue effort in the town.
“There are individuals who are deceased. We do not have a count, but we are working to identify them,” Zahralban said to Time.
At least 16 people have died after Michael went through the Florida panhandle, including an 11-year-old girl. According to Time, Seminole County Coroner Chad Smith identified the girl as Sarah Radney. Radney died after strong winds slammed a metal carport into her grandparents home. Smith said the cause of death likely is blunt force trauma to the head.
Virginia State Police confirmed five died in Michael-related incidents last Friday. Four people drowned after being swept away from their vehicles in separate incidents and a firefighter died in a car accident involving a tractor trailer in Hanover County, Virginia.
According to Stormwater Solutions, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) expects the death toll to continue to rise.
“I expect the fatality count to climb today and tomorrow as we get through the debris, and I am very frustrated by that because we seem to not learn this lesson in this country,” said Brock Long, FEMA Administrator, Friday.
Images and videos on social media have revealed the destruction Hurricane Michael left in its path.
Aerial view of catastrophic damage to Mexico Beach, Florida. The town took a direct hit by Hurricane #Michael on Wednesday. A devastating category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph. Nearly a category 5. pic.twitter.com/VaVBLmum0W
— Zach Covey (@ZachWPDE) October 11, 2018
According to Time, Erik Salna, Director of the International Hurricane Research Center, said a combination of warm water temperatures and wind shear helped intensify the storm. This is why it upgraded to a Category 4 storm so quickly before it made landfall on the Florida Panhandle.
“It’s amazing, rapid intensification and it’s not always easy to predict how strong these storms can get,” Salna said to Time.
According to CBS News, what emergency responders are calling “ground zero” for the hurricane’s hit, nearly 300 out of the city’s 1,200 population stayed in the area to ride out the storm.