Search-and-rescue teams have begun to find bodies in and around Mexico Beach, the beach town that has been nearly taken down to the ground by Hurricane Michael.
Officials have not given any numbers to how many dead have been found. The Miami Fire Chief, Joseph Zahralban, said: “There are individuals who are deceased. We do not have a count, but we are working to identify them.” His team included a search dog.
Not counting those who died at Mexico Beach, so far 13 lives were claimed by the storm.
Of the 1,000 or so people that live in Mexico Beach, 285 refused to evacuate. Their whereabouts are not fully known. Emergency officials said they have done an initial “hasty search” of 80 percent of the stricken area to try to find the living and the dead.
In the Florida Panhandle area, emergency officials have received thousands of calls asking about missing people. Hampered cell phone service is making communication extremely difficult.
Gov. Rick Scott said state officials still “do not know enough” about the fate of those who stayed behind in the region.
Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said he expects to see the death toll rise and is distressed that people appear to have “hurricane amnesia.”
“We still haven’t gotten into the hardest-hit areas. Very few people live to tell what it’s like to experience storm surge, and unfortunately in this country we seem to not learn the lesson. When state and local officials tell you to get out, dang it, do it. Get out,” he said.