After hurricane Michael was torn by the Florida Panhandle on his way north, the state authorities were given the macabre task of determining the storm's death rate – a question that could take some time to answer, Fla. Where Michael came ashore last week as a strong category 4 storm, the sheriff said on Tuesday that 12 hurricane-related deaths had been confirmed there. The total number of deaths associated with the storm is at least 28 in four states, with other deaths being investigated in Florida and officials still exploring some of the devastated areas.
Bay County sheriff Tommy Ford remains lower than what many had expected due to the absolute devastation left by the hurricane. Some had expected a higher death toll in Mexico Beach, Florida, as nearly 300 people had told authorities they were not planning to evacuate the tiny coastal town that was obliterated by Michael's storm surge and 1
"But based on what we see locally, I do not expect it to rise – we do not expect it to increase dramatically," said Ford. "It's nothing short of a miracle, we have a high number Expected dead. "
Ford said the coroner had determined that the 12 deaths were all due to storm. While Ford had no breakdown of deaths by location, he said that at least a few people were killed in Mexico Beach. Ford also said he suspected that many of the people in Mexico Beach who had planned to ride the storm there could "flee at the last minute."
"It was sobering to wake up … at 4am on Wednesday and see that it intensified further and we were inside the crosshairs and there was a narrowing cone of insecurity," he said.
It was unclear how many people were missing Tuesday. Ford said he was not sure how many people are still missing in Bay County, where officials are still struggling with their communication systems in the storm; Several could not be reached on Tuesday, as the mobile phone service remained limited. CrowdSource Rescue, an organization in Texas that collects reports of missing persons and forwards them to first responders and volunteers on the ground, reports that there were still more than 700 missing people in Florida on Tuesday afternoon.
Florida officials do not Immediately provide a nationwide number of missing persons, although they found that after disasters, a large number of people are often reported missing, especially when there is a lack of cell supply and electricity. Governor Rick Scott's office reported that more than 138,000 people still had no power supply on Tuesday afternoon, many of them in the coastal areas along the Gulf and inland over the Pfannenstiel along the trail of the storm.
One thing that complicates the problem of missing people is the inability to communicate with each other and communicate with the outside world, "said Ford.
He was out Monday night and received a text message from a law enforcement officer in another district who was unable to reach an elderly uncle in Bay County. "I could drop by and see and he was fine," said Ford. "He just did not have any communication skills, he was fine."
Parts Florida has been destroyed, and seven school districts are "closed until further notice," Scott's office said Tuesday, in a statement calling on telecom companies to clarify how they would help get the service back on track, and his office sharply criticized the continued failures of the Floridians.
"Due to these failures, families have a difficult time In communication with relatives, Ers To overcome problems with communication, and people have difficulty getting their recipes because they can not connect to a network, "said his office.
The storm's death rate remained unclear nearly a week later. Virginia officials reported six deaths there, while authorities reported three deaths in North Carolina and two in Georgia.
Even as local Florida authorities reported more deaths than Tuesday, civil servants had only confirmed two deaths, a number that was partly determined because of the way storm-related deaths are reported after natural disasters.
Hurricane deaths are reported by the Medical Examiners Commission of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The counties send their death counts to the commission, which then sends this information to state officials for publication as official votes for Florida, said Stephen Nelson, chairman of the commission.
"Our problem here is that it took a while to access these communities and be able to talk to our people on the ground," said Nelson, the medical examiner in a district, Polk County, Florida , includes, in an interview. He said that the Bay County coroner's office had no power on Monday afternoon and relied on a generator.
There are two types of deaths attributed to a storm, Nelson said. Direct deaths are people who are killed when they drive into flooded areas and drown or are in fallen buildings. Indirect deaths, which typically occur more frequently, often occur during preparation and cleansing, even if someone slips and falls from a roof or dies from carbon monoxide poisoning produced by a generator.
The state emergency center said a century-old woman was killed in Clay County. Some local officials, like Bay County, have reported numbers that the state has not yet released. Rodney Andreasen, Emergency Management Director for Jackson County, Florida, said his county had suffered three deaths from the storm.
The Gadsden County Sheriff's Office in Florida reported four "storm-related deaths" last week, saying only one was officially confirmed as a hurricane death and the other three were sent to the medical examiner's office for further investigation ,
Law enforcement officials and first responders are still working to find out if dead or injured people are missing, and Nelson warned that numbers could rise throughout the state.
"If these search and recovery efforts take place, I would be surprised if our body count does not increase," Nelson said. It's difficult for them to get into all the areas involved, Nelson said, "the more they can achieve … In the more remote areas, I would be very surprised if the number of deaths does not increase."