At least 18 people have died, and more than 1,500 are informally missing as a result of Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in the Florida panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, carrying sustained winds of 155 mph.
The deaths aren’t contained to Florida. Individuals in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia have been killed in Hurricane-related incidents as well.
According to Reuters, “teams consisting mostly of off-duty police officers and firefighters have found more than 520 of the 2,100 people reported missing” since the hurricane hit. Fortunately, according to Matthew Marchetti of CrowdSource Rescue, the number of found individuals should rise in the coming days due in part to larger search and rescue teams made up of volunteers and professionals.
Ariel footage shows how Hurricane Michael has ravaged towns like Panama City and Mexico Beach:
Courtesy LSM/Brandon Clement pic.twitter.com/hqHTdkOz2E
— ABC 33/40 News (@abc3340) October 11, 2018
Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as the strongest storm to hit the U.S. since 1969. Its winds were powerful enough to bring down the walls of this middle school gymnasium in Panama City. https://t.co/OD36mMw5Ly pic.twitter.com/myALZjacdQ
— ABC News (@ABC) October 11, 2018
Reuters adds that because of the devastation, “cadaver dogs, drones, and heavy equipment” are being employed to search for survivors and the dead.
There is hope that the death toll won’t rise significantly, reports the Miami Herald, as Seminole County Emergency Management Director Alan Harris stated that a makeshift “mortuary location” is no longer being considered.
“Thank God we’re not seeing that as a critical need,” said Harris.
Moody’s Analytics is predicting that the final economic cost of Hurricane Michael may be as high as $21 billion, less than half of the estimated cost of Hurricane Florence ($38 billion to $50 billion), where flooding caused a great deal of damage.
Nola reports that Hurricane Michael’s winds are the fourth strongest from a storm making landfall in the United States, behind 1992’s Andrew, 1969’s Camille, and 1935’s “Labor Day Hurricane.”