Hurricane Michael death toll climbs to 18, Florida officials fear it will rise

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MEXICO BEACH, Fla. — 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.

So far, one body has been found in Mexico Beach, but authorities say there is little doubt the death toll will rise.  Hurricane Michael’s death toll climbed to 18 Saturday, after another victim was discovered in Virginia.

Crews with dogs went door-to-door Saturday in Mexico Beach, pushing aside debris to get inside badly damaged structures in a second wave of searches following what they described as an initial, “hasty” search of the area.

Authorities have set up distribution centers to dole out food and water to victims. They’ve also set up a triage tent to treat residents stepping on nails and cutting themselves on debris.

Gov. Rick Scott said Saturday more than 1,800 law enforcement officers have been sent to impacted areas in the Panhandle and Big Bend along with more than 400 ambulances with over 700 staff. The Florida National Guard has activated 4,000 soldiers and airmen to help with search and rescue, clearing roads and delivering supplies.

He also there are 15 shelters open across the state and that 11 counties across Florida are eligible for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He also said 243,513 people are without power in Florida.

Continuing coverage, here.

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