Hurricane Michael Death Toll May Rise as Rescue Efforts Continue

October 14, 2018, 6:27 PM UTC

Hurricane Michael made landfall last week on the Florida Panhandle with 155 mile-per-hour winds, making it one of the strongest storms to hit the region in years.

On Sunday, reports confirmed 18 deaths associated with the storm in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, and that number might continue to rise as rescue efforts are underway. Mayor Al Cathey of Mexico Beach, Fla. said search-and-rescue teams were making their way through the damage faced by the town, and said the remaining residents had received enough food and water, the Associated Press reported.

Residents were concerned about the rebuilding process after the storm. Kenny Day, a resident of Panama City broke down in tears while speaking to ABC News about the damage. “It’s going to be rough for a while in Panama City,” he said. “I’m originally from Indiana and a couple of times I thought [that] while I’ve got a little money in my pocket I might as well head home to Indiana because it’s gonna to be forever before we get back to normal.”

Across the region, homes were destroyed and residents experienced power outages. Florida officials also chose to evacuate 3,000 prisoners from two prisons that were damaged by the hurricane. Authorities reported that no prisoners or staff were harmed, according to the AP.

Meanwhile, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spoke to Jake Tapper on Sunday about what can be done to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Hurricane Michael coincides with the release of the IPCC’s report on climate change, which sounded the alarms last week, stating that it is “extremely improbable” that global actors will be able to prevent global warming beyond the 1.5C target.

“No matter what we do with laws, if tomorrow we stopped all—say we went to all solar panels and did all that stuff, which is not realistic, this trend would still continue,” Rubio told Tapper, without offering any specific details. He added, “So we’re going to have to do something about the impact that it’s having on low-level coastal areas.”