Hurricane Michael blamed for 16 deaths in Florida alone

Audrey Hill
October 17, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump got a first-hand look on Monday at the "total devastation" that Hurricane Michael brought to Florida, as rescuers searched for scores of missing people and hundreds of thousands of residents remained without power.

The president initially saw uprooted trees and houses with blue tarps covering damaged roofs after taking off from Eglin Air Force Base by helicopter.

Bay County includes Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town of 1,000 people that was almost obliterated, as well as Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City and Lynn Haven, all of which were heavily damaged.

Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach in Bay County Wednesday with winds around 155 miles per hour, decimating almost every home and business in the small seaside community, including the Mexico Beach Police Department.

Mr. Trump and first lady Melania Trump met Lynn Haven resident Michael Rollins, who rode out the storm with his three dogs. Lackey estimated that he and his uncle spent about 20 to 30 percent more for the upgrades but said they were "totally worth it". "If you stayed in Mexico Beach, there's no way you could have survived".

Florida's hurricane-devastated communities, such as Mexico Beach, are struggling to recover, partly because of poor cellphone service. "We seen all the debris, trees, pieces of everything". Our teams continue to work around the clock to fix and restore service, and address the remaining parts of our network that have been affected by the storm. Republicans in Florida, including Scott, disagreed with Trump and said they did not dispute the death toll numbers.

"I've got a concrete slab left, but it's OK, I'm alive", said Mr Putnal, who said he had been helping survivors and that his home was destroyed.

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In the nearby city of Lynn Haven, where blue tarps topped numerous homes, Trump walked up to a house where a massive pine tree lay on the front yard next to a palm tree that stood tall. "Some of them have no trace of a home", Trump told reporters on the airport tarmac.

"I am therefore joining Governor Scott in calling on wireless carriers to waive the bills of Floridians in these affected areas for the month of October and to allow them to change carriers without penalty".

Scott returned the praise, saying that Trump has always followed through on federal promises of support.

Trump is fully committed to helping state and local agencies with the recovery, the White House said. President Trump said this week he intends to ask Congress for emergency aid funding. The storm also intensified unexpectedly after making landfall, worsening over North Carolina and creating power outages affecting half a million in Virginia.

"We listened to voicemails we received overnight", he said, "and you can just hear in their voice their desperation, wanting to know if their family member is alive and well or if their family member has passed". Trump also planned to survey hurricane damage in Georgia on Monday.

The state has officially acknowledged just two deaths so far - and one death was in northeast Florida, far from the ground-zero fury of the Category 4 storm.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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