Three days after the devastating passage of Hurricane Michael in Florida, search operations for isolated victims continued on Saturday. The human toll has even increased to 17 dead, but the priority of rescuers is now to help people who have lost everything.
Rescuers announced Friday they had discovered a first body in the vast debris field that has become the small resort of Mexico Beach.
Dozens of homes, shops, restaurants on the waterfront were blown inland or simply destroyed.
The discovery of the body of an elderly man has brought the number of deaths in Florida following the hurricane to eight. The storm has proven to be the most violent to hit the northwest of the state since records began in 1851.
Michael has also touched other states going up the coast. It killed five in Virginia, three in North Carolina – a state hit hard by Hurricane Florence last month – and one in Georgia, a girl killed when a garage awning landed on her house, authorities said. .
Michael had violently hit the coast of Florida Wednesday , then carrying winds to 250 km / h.
Deployment of rescuers and employees
Florida Governor Rick Scott paid tribute on Saturday to the “hard work” of first responders and all public sector employees working to restore bridges, road access and other vital infrastructure.
Some 261,000 homes in the wake of the hurricane were still in the dark on Saturday.
In Panama City, a city that was also hard-hit, local radio regularly provided information on open stores and commodity distribution centers, according to AFP journalists there.
Some stores like Walmart have reopened. The Salvation Army has set up aid distribution points throughout the city.
On Saturday morning, the lines of cars were getting longer in the few open petrol stations.
St Andrew Baptist Church established a distribution center for survival rations, water, towels and dog food from across the state by the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief Organization.
“We will be able tonight to feed 500 people,” said Mark Bateman, one of the parish pastors, who has about 800 worshipers.
Although the roof of the church was damaged, the building could house the volunteers who had come to help.
The balance sheet could get heavier
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has warned that it still fears dead victims.
“I expect the balance sheet will increase today and tomorrow as we move through the debris,” FEMA boss Brock Long told CNN on Friday.
President Donald Trump has announced that he will visit Florida and neighboring Georgia in the beginning of the week, which is also hard hit.
The evacuation instructions probably saved many lives, and many of the people who had taken refuge in the land returned to their homes to participate in the extensive mucking operations.
Other US states have offered help, such as Arkansas, which sent two Black Hawk helicopters and military personnel to Florida.
The Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City, was also speculative, as some of its heavily damaged hangars could harbor stealth F-22 Raptors, known for their huge unit cost.
The US Air Force did not give details about the fate of these hunters.