Florida's Bay County, Mexico Beach unsafe to return and & # 39; it will take a long time & # 39 ;, say FEMA officials - USA TODAY


One of the hardest hit places in Florida is Mexico Beach, where Michael crashed Wednesday as a category 4 monster with 155 mph (250 km / h) of wind. (11 October)

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – Federal officials help Florida and other states to dig up the enormous damage of Hurricane Michael. On Friday it is too dangerous to return to areas that are flooded with storm surges such as Bay County.

Emergency teams are focused on restoring communication and transport. But Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that debris and devastation of the storm in some areas prevents a safe return so far.

"It is still not safe to return, especially to Bay County, Florida," said Long. "There is no infrastructure there to support you and frankly it is a dangerous area to go back."

Approximately 4,000 had registered with FEMA on Friday morning for financial assistance in repairing their home, said Alex Amparo, assistant assistant administrator for national preparedness. But that number is expected to increase as the transport and communication network was restored, he said.

"We expect this number to continue to increase exponentially as more people have access to communication," Amparo said.

Approximately 2,900 people stayed in Red Cross evacuation centers and emergency shelters in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, according to spokesman Peter Macias. About 1,000 volunteers help shelter, food and health services in five states, he said.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency begs residents who have been driven out of their homes by Hurricane Michael to be patient before returning home because it may not be safe. (12 October)

FEMA works with state officials on housing options such as mobile homes, rental units and adapting buildings, Amparo said.

"There are many people who have been evacuated further away or actually went to a hotel," he said. "The emergency housing for people now – it is a stay with family and friends, or the shelter where they stayed for the landing."

Residents have 60 days to request financial assistance from FEMA, which aims to make homes habitable instead of fully recovering their value. If homes are destroyed, FEMA can sometimes use aerial photographs to assess the damage, Amparo said. But usually inspectors have to visit the damaged homes with the residents and once the meeting is completed, the money is sometimes electronically transferred as quickly as electronically within a few hours, he said.

Search and rescue operations continued. On Friday at 8 am FEMA had welfare checks carried out on 654 people who stayed before the storm, said Amparo. The authorities also assessed 1,000 structures and evacuated 27 people from dangerous areas, he said. But all those figures may have doubled during Friday, he estimated.

Crews worked to reopen damaged areas. Twisting convoys of bucket trucks and cherry pickers, with hundreds of power and boom service workers from across the region, fed in and out of the Walmart parking lot in Panama City Beach before being dispersed across Bay County.

"Anyone who evacuated Mexico Beach in a shelter will take a long time before they can actually return and return to those places because it's badly damaged," said Long.

When the blue sky and the sun returned to the Panhandle, the roar of chainsaws and generators drowned chirping birds. In Panama City the power is off, the gas pipes are closed and mobile phones can not be serviced.

"This is more devastating than I thought it would be," said Katie Danielson, 38, whose house was damaged, but is still viable with a small generator, an electric griddle and a pool to get water for flushing toilets. . "I wish we had left, it's just a bit miserable now."

Residents wandered into food and drink and fetched buckets of bayouwer to wash their toilets. The Sam & # 39; s Club opened its doors to sell gas, but almost no other stores were open.

"We were prepared for a day or two," says Tyson Bean, 26, who has grilled and shared neighbors with neighbors on Thursday evening. "But ice is melted and the food is gone."

Becky Daniel responds to seeing her Beacon Hill at home, behind her, on October 11, 2018. It was destroyed in hurricane Michael. The area is right next to Mexico City, which was ground ground for the hurricane. (Photo: Andrew West, USA TODAY Network)

His girlfriend, Whitney Sharp, 32, wondered when schools could reopen. Her daughter, Jaslyn, 4, would have started kindergarten next week.

"We have no idea," Sharp said. "Some of our neighbors are teachers and they said it might be three months."

On Beck Avenue at Panama City's waterfront, daylight flooded between the visible beams of Jordan Slaughter's roof. Her apartment was still standing, but uninhabitable.

Slaughter picked up the things that were worth saving, and carefully stepped over the things that were not, because friends and family joked about the need for hazmat suits.

"I stay with my family until the power returns or I find another job," she said.

Agueda Sanchez and her son, Victor, used a tree branch to sweep the debris at their family bakery where the 155 mph of wind was blown out of the front wall of the building.

The bakery, La Fuente, at number 98, had been part of a small shopping center that was inhabited by a handful of local entrepreneurs. The roof was peeled off a lot of the complex. A stack of bricks and rubble with everything from office chairs to a street sign was where the western wall of the building once stood.

"I do not know if they will rebuild," said Victor Sanchez. "It depends on the owners and the insurance."

In Blountstown, about 50 miles northeast of Mexico Beach, those who needed food and water stood in line at the town square.

"I am the only person who has a car and gas," said Sandra Clark of Clarksville, who was crying in her car in the distribution center because the need was so great. "I have 15 people, they live in tents, they have been decimated, we have nothing."

Getting water for another reason was Jessie Foreman, a technician from Critter Car, a veterinary clinic outside of Blountstown.

"We have housed about 30 animals, people have taken their animals with us before they left for the storm," she said. "The front part of the building has collapsed, collapsed, but the rear half is safe, and all animals are safe."

Streams of emergency vehicles drove past Blountstown and drove south to Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe and other hard-hit areas. Lines of ambulances, trucks, boom service trucks, state fishermen and yacht officers in their marked trucks and line-on-line of white prison buses steadily walked to the coast.

Search and rescue teams spread along American Route 98 Friday morning looking for survivors from Mexico Beach to Apalachicola. As each section was erased, a mark indicating the area was sprayed in an orange or green fluorescent color.

Indications about whether someone can be at home include vehicles on driveways and unlocked doors. Padlocks on the outside of the doors, for example, were a good warning that someone was not inside.

"We want to be sure that everyone is responsible," said Lt. Jeff Hansen of the Central Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Force Four, who led a six-person crew through what was left of homes in the Beacon Hill area of ​​Port St. Joe.

Kevin Yeskey, deputy assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, said that four hospitals and 11 nursing homes in Florida are closed Friday, while all remain open in Georgia.

In Panama City, Bay Medical Sacred Heart Hospital, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center and Fort Walton Medical Center have evacuated patients, but treat those who have arrived at first aid, Yeskey said.

The US Health and Human Services Minister, Alex Azar, declared an emergency in Georgia on Thursday after Florida earlier in the week to make payments more flexible for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, suppliers and suppliers.

When returning to damaged areas, Yeskey urged the residents to consult with health and emergency authorities and to wear boots, eye protection and gloves.

"In many places it is not safe to go back to your home," Yeskey said.

Lake: Flying debris, houses flooded by water: Watch the video of Michael's horrendous damage

Lake: & # 39; This was our heart. It's just gone & # 39 ;: the death toll from Michael climbs to 11

Lake: Michael is officially stronger than Katrina at landfall

Lake: I have experienced (and covered) many hurricanes in Florida. Hurricane Michael was different.

The Coast Guard saved 129 people and one animal and transported 142 nursing home patients to a safe haven in the Pensacola hospital. The Coast Guard used 17 cutters, nine aircraft with fixed wings and 24 airplanes for search and rescue, and to establish damage.

The Coast Guard continues to assess the damage in the counties of the Bay and Gulf and urged residents not to embark partially sunken ships without assistance. The ports in Pensacola and Cedar Key have been reopened. But the port of Panama City remained closed in Florida while the coast guard repaired the waterways.

The Red Cross has 1,000 trained disaster bars that leave for the area. The Salvation Army has 48 mobile feed ovens, each capable of supplying 1,500 meals per day.

Hughes and Robinson reported from Panama City, Florida. Michael Braun of the Fort Myers News-Press contributed from Blountstown. Jansen reported from Washington, D.C.

Auto play

Show thumbnails

Show captions

Last slideNext slide

Read or share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/10/12/hurricane-michael-fema-parts-florida-remain-unsafe-return/1613190002/