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Florida officials fear Michael's death toll will keep rising

14 October 2018

In Mexico Beach, which bore the brunt of Michael's strongest winds and highest storm surge, one body was found Saturday in the rubble. Says Long: "We still haven't gotten into the hardest-hit areas".

Search and rescue personnel are continuing to comb through the ruins of a small Florida Panhandle community destroyed by Hurricane Michael, which has left hundreds thousands without power and without easy access to supplies.

The Cooter Stew Cafe starts taking water in the town of Saint Marks as Hurricane Michael pushes the storm surge up the Wakulla and Saint Marks Rivers which come together here on October 10, 2018 in Saint Marks, Florida.

Fatalities include eight people in Florida, five people in Virginia, three people in North Carolina and a child in Georgia with a tree falling through a Florida home causing the first death on Wednesday.

Ray Jadallah, from the Miami-Dade County Florida Task Force 1, has spent the last two days - 20 hours a day - digging through debris in Mexico Beach.

"There's people going through their neighbour's (destroyed) try to find some jelly for the sandwiches for the kids", said Russ Montgomery, a volunteer with Project Greenlight from San Antonio, Texas.

"After every event, you always go back and look what you can do better", Scott said. At the peak of the storm, more than 12,000 customers lost power.

Authorities have warned that the storm's death toll was likely to climb as they were able to head into the areas - such as Mexico Beach, Florida - that endured particular damage this week.

David Prevatt, an associate professor of civil and coastal engineering at the University of Florida, said in an email Thursday that drone footage of the devastation in Mexico Beach showed structural damage to roofs and exterior walls, and damaged rafters and trusses, "indicating the strength of the wind that caused those failures".

"Everybody just needs to help each other right now", Scott said after meeting with emergency responders in the Panama City area.

By one count, state officials said, 285 people in Mexico Beach defied mandatory evacuation orders and stayed behind. "The house is not livable, so I don't know".

Nearby Panama City Beach experienced similar damage along with other communities along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

CNN reported that for Bay County, where Panama City is located, a curfew was put in place after the hurricane.

In Panama City Beach, churches are ready to help even though they weren't spared from the destruction.

IsraAID's team in Florida will collaborate with Team Rubicon, an global disaster response organization founded by United States military veterans, to aid the return of survivors of Hurricane Michael to their homes.

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.

The Internal Revenue Service says victims of Hurricane Michael will get a grace period before having to file some tax returns and payments. A local sheriff's deputy saved a 17-year-old man using a human chain with law enforcement officers, local residents and rope, officials said, but a man and a woman - who police said are related to the teenager - were swept away.

Florida officials fear Michael's death toll will keep rising