Rebuilding after unimaginable destruction
- Rescuers have begun to search for survivors in Florida after Hurricane Michael devastated the coast. Efforts will intensify on Friday.
- 12 people have been killed across four states, and the whereabouts of 280 people in Florida was known as of Thursday.
- The army, national guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are working on the ground, but FEMA has warned of a rising death toll.
- Efforts to rebuild will begin after homes and roads were smashed and trees downed. One estimate said Hurricane Michael cost billion in damage.
Efforts to find survivors in the rubble caused by Hurricane Michael have begun while the death toll from one of the most powerful storms in history has risen to 12 across four states.
Category-4 Hurricane Michael smashed into Mexico Beach on Wednesday with 155 mph winds, tearing buildings apart, causing widespread flooding, and killing at least two people.
The storm then weakened to a tropical storm where it killed people in Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina, Reuters reported, citing state officials.
"I expect the fatality count to climb today and tomorrow," Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told CNN. "Hopefully it doesn't rise dramatically but it does remain a possibility."
In Mexico Beach, the army used heavy equipment to clear a path in the debris and allow rescuers through to search for trapped residents, survivors, or casualties, as Blackhawk helicopters circled overhead.
FEMA used dogs, drones, and GPS in the search.
First responders and residents walk in Mexico Beach on Thursday. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
"We have teams from all over the country working with federal, state &localpartnersinFlorida.Theirspecialtiesrangefromdamageassessmenttomedicalmissionstosearch&rescue,"FEMAtweetedonThursday.
AerialfootageshowstheextentofthedamagefromHurricaneMichaelinMexicoBeach.ChrisO'Meara/Pool via REUTERS
Rebuilding after "unimaginable destruction"
Scott promised an "aggressive" cleanup operation, but acknowledged its huge scale.
"So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything," he said. He called it "unimaginable destruction."
An insurance company that produces models for catastrophes estimated Michael caused about billion in damage, the Associated Press reported.
Mexico Beach Mayor Bo Patterson estimated 1,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed in his town of 3,500 people.
"We had houses that were on one side of the street and now they're on the other," he said.
Those left behind acknowledged the sheer scale of the destruction. "All of my furniture was floating," Mexico Beach resident Linda Marquardt told the Associated Press. "A river just started coming down the road.
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