Hurricane Michael-related death toll rises to 12

Author: CBS News
Published: Updated:
Mexico Beach, Florida after Hurricane Michael. Credit: Chris O'Mera AP
Mexico Beach, Florida after Hurricane Michael. Credit: Chris O’Mera AP

The death toll from Hurricane Michael has jumped to at least 12, and FEMA Administrator Brock Long said he expects that number to continue to rise. As of Friday morning, more than 1.4 million utility customers from Florida to Virginia were without power.

“We’re still in life-safety mode,” Long told CBS News. “We’re not even close to having discussions on rebuilding yet.”

Mexico Beach, Florida, was one of the hardest-hit areas. Entire blocks of homes were obliterated in the small Panhandle community.

Thousands of National Guard troops and emergency workers are helping the survivors. On Friday morning, Michael’s remnants were over the Atlantic Ocean, lashing the New England coast with strong winds and heavy rain.

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  • Follow Hurricane Michael updates below

  • Passenger killed when tree falls on vehicle

    A tree fell on top of a vehicle and killed a passenger in North Carolina, the state’s Emergency Management agency confirmed to CBS News on Friday morning. It’s second-known death in the state caused by Hurricane Michael and the 12th nationwide.

    Emergency Management spokesman Keith Acree said the accident happened in Marion, which is northeast of Asheville.

  • North Carolina gov.: Strong riptides at the beach

    North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged people not to swim along the state’s coastline this weekend because of strong riptides and heavy surf caused by Michael, which has moved into the Atlantic. “It’ll be a beautiful weekend at the beach, but it’s not a time to go in swimming,” Cooper said during a press conference Friday morning.

    Hundreds of roads were closed across the state, many of them blocked by trees, Cooper said. Some roads were washed out.

    Cooper urged motorists not to drive around barricades. “Those roads are closed for a reason,” he said.

    A Virginia firefighter died while responding to a crash north of Richmond as Michael lashed the state. The Hanover County Fire-EMS Department said Fire Lt. Brad Clark died when a tractor-trailer struck his fire engine at the scene of a two-vehicle crash around 9 p.m. Thursday.

    The department said that the fire engine had its lights and other emergency equipment activated but roads were slick and storm conditions were heavy. The state medical examiner’s office has ruled that Clark’s death was among five storm-related fatalities in the state.

    Authorities said two others in Clark’s crew were seriously injured. The truck driver had to be extricated and also suffered serious injuries.

    FEMA chief: “Not safe to return” to hardest-hit areas

    • FEMA Administrator Brock Long warned people Friday not to go back to the areas that Hurricane Michael hit the hardest. “It’s still not safe to return, particularly to Bay County, Florida,” Long said.

      Mexico Beach, which officials have called “ground zero” for hurricane damage, and Panama City are in Bay County. Tyndall Air Force Base, which the Air Force has said was severely damaged in the storm, is also in the county.

      “There’s no infrastructure there to support you, and quite honestly it’s a dangerous area to go back into,” Long said during a press conference Friday morning. “When you have this type of destruction, there’s gas lines that are there, there’s power lines that are down. In doing so, you’re putting your life in danger, and we ask you to be patient.”

    • Destruction in Panhandle stretches for miles

      • Entire cities along Florida’s Panhandle are unrecognizable, CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca reports from Mexico Beach. Homes and businesses were ripped from their foundations, trailers were split open and tossed aside like toys, and a coastline was carved up by relentless, surging waves.

        “I never in my life would I ever dream that I would go through something like this,” Jackie Grable of Port St. Joe told Villafranca. Just up the coast, officials called Mexico Beach “ground zero” for hurricane damage.

        The destruction is catastrophic, and it stretches for miles in every direction. Help is arriving.

        Rescue teams with dogs searched what was left of Mexico Beach on Thursday, combing through piles of debris stacked 20 feet high. “This area is not going to be back to normal for a long time,” said Danny Simon of Louisiana Task Force 1, an emergency response team that just finished a 17-day deployment in North Carolina and South Carolina after Hurricane Florence.

        Nearly 300 people in the area stayed behind to ride out Wednesday’s storm. Many were still unaccounted for on Friday morning.

      • Michael death toll keeps climbing

        Five more deaths are being blamed on what was Hurricane Michael, bringing the new death toll to at least 11.

        Virginia State Police say they were called in Thursday afternoon to help find James E. King Jr., 45, who was swept away from his vehicle by floodwaters.

        Shortly after 10:30 p.m., special agents with the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation and local volunteer firefighters found King’s body downstream.

        Four other deaths are being attributed to Michael in Virginia.

        In addition, authorities say 4 people died from storm-related incidents in Florida and one each in North Carolina and Georgia.

        The person who died in Georgia was an 11-year-old girl.

      • Michael out to sea but some effects still being felt

        One-time Category 4 Hurricane Michael was a post-tropical cyclone moving across the Atlantic early Friday, the National Hurricane Center said. But people in the Florida Panhandle were only beginning to deal with the destruction in its wake.

        As of 5 a.m. Friday, Michael’s core was 85 miles east-northeast of Norfolk, Virginia and 275 miles southwest of Nantucket, Massachusetts, speeding east-northeast at 29 mph, the NHC said. It was still packing 65 mph maximum sustained winds.

        The hurricane center forecast that, “The center of Michael will move away from the United States today and move rapidly across the open Atlantic Ocean tonight through Sunday.

        ” … Some additional strengthening is expected today andtonight as the post-tropical cyclone moves across the Atlantic.”

      • Michael’s not done yet

        The National Hurricane Center said early Friday Michael was getting stronger as it was transitioning into a post-tropical storm. It still had damaging winds and was generating “life-threatening flash flooding … over portions of North Carolina and the southern mid-Atlantic” states, the center said.

        As of 2 a.m. EDT, Michael’s core was some 65 miles east-northeast of Norfolk, Virginia with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. It was heading northeast at 25 mph — very fast for a storm.

        According to the NHC, “On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move away from the coast of the United States during the next few hours and then begin to race east-northeastward across the northwestern Atlantic Ocean.

        ” … Michael is expected to continue to strengthen while becoming a post-tropical low during the next few hours.”

      • Michael about to move to Atlantic Ocean

        As of 11 p.m. Thursday, Tropical Storm Michael was poised to move off the Virginia coast and become a post-tropical cyclone, the National Hurricane Center said. Damaging winds and life-threatening flash floods are still occuring in portions of North Carolina and the southern mid-Atlantic states.

        Michael had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, and was moving at 25 mph. Tropical storm conditions are occurring over portions of extreme eastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.

      • Updated power outage numbers

        There are over 1.5 million without power in six states as of 10 p.m. Thursday, officials said.

        A breakdown by state of the power outages. All numbers are approximate:

        • 326,691 customers without power in Florida
        • 37,966 customers without power in Alabama
        • 133,333 customers without power in Georgia
        • 92,000 customers without power in South Carolina
        • 731,596 customers without power in North Carolina
        • 271,487 customers without power in Virginia
      • Some Floridians return to find homes destroyed

        Deirdre Hawthorne and her family rode out the storm with more than 200 other people in a shelter, CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste reports. On her way home, she said she was filled with “dread.” She has called Bristol, Florida, home for the last 18 years.

        CBS News was with her when she saw her house for the first time. Somehow it was still standing beneath a twisted knot of fallen trees. Her daughter Amanda had to find another way into the house.

        Amanda said she was “devastated, scared, happy.”

        A tree happened to fall the other way, narrowly missing their home. But not everyone was so lucky.

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