Tuesday, October 23, 2018
  • The Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida begins to assess Hurricane Michael wreckage

At a morning meeting at Florida's emergency operation center, staff debriefed on the aftermath of Hurricane Michael across the Panhandle.

Officials laid out the plan for the rest of the day to come, and reflected on the work done overnight.

The Coast Guard had "several rescues" in Panama City, and are working to bring water and fuel from Tallahassee to needier areas near Apalachicola.

RELATED COVERAGE: Hurricane Michael thrashes Florida panhandle with historic fury. 

Ground Zero: See the damage Hurricane Michael inflicted on Mexico Beach

There are currently 495 search-and-rescue officers deployed or en route, as well as 110 firefighters and teams of medics, reconnaissance personnel and mortuary teams deployed. Also deployed are 100 ambulances and five ambulance buses that can treat a dozen patients at a time.

The death toll is currently at two, but is expected to rise.

"The really big difference from yesterday, is that today everything is launching," said Infrastructure Branch Director Danny Kilcollins.

About 400,000 accounts across the state are still without power. From Leon County to Washington County, 60 percent of household and businesses are still in the dark.

"There's a large outage of internet service in the hardest hit areas," Kilcollins said. "We are bringing in cells on wheels and towers."

Staff mentioned a response to a hazardous material situation, but no information was immediately available.

While authorities are preparing to set up extra shelters and move people into more secure areas, they are also using FloridaDisaster.org top post notices on when residents can go back to their homes.

They plan to use remote sensing and geotag photo technology to assess damage and update residents in real time.

"This is the first time we are doing this," said Richard Butgereit, CIO for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

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