Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida on Wednesday, October 10th as a Category 4 storm and is the strongest hurricane ever to come ashore along the Florida Panhandle. With 155 mph winds at landfall, it is also the strongest storm to hit the continental US since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and has affected Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas. After being downgraded, it became the first Category 3 hurricane to hit Georgia since 1898. Its tropical-storm-force wind speeds stretched for more than 320 miles, with Mexico Beach being the hardest hit.
As of October 20, the death toll from the storm includes 36 people in four (4) states; twenty-six (26) in Florida, three (3) in North Carolina, one (1) in Georgia and six (6) in Virginia. In the aftermath, search-and-rescue teams are still combing through rubble in search of people reported missing. With extensive power outages, and some areas without cellphone service which could be preventing people from reaching out for help, it is difficult to determine how many are still missing.
More than 100,000 Floridians are still without power as of October 22, according to the state Department of Emergency Management website. At its peak, outages reached over 400,000 and the hardest-hit counties in the Panhandle remain in a primitive state. Power outages in some areas are predicted to last weeks or months are boil-water orders in several communities, and curfews remain in effect during night hours. There are also fears about potential fires given all the downed timber and a desire to burn off debris.
Utility workers are working to rebuild and repair the disrupted and destroyed infrastructure. Cellular telephone company workers and search-and-rescue personnel joined Florida National Guard troops and multitudes of police and firefighters to respond to the storm.
ECI Board of Directors and Staff send our best wishes to those who have been impacted by the storm. Please keep those who continue to feel the effects of Michael in your thoughts as rescues continue and they begin to rebuild. If you are interested in making donations or aiding in relief efforts, there are several options including:
- The American Red Cross : help people affected by Hurricane Michael
- GlobalGiving: hurricane Michael Relief Fund
- Florida Disaster Fund: taking donations to assist the victims of Hurricane Michael
- The Salvation Army: donate to 2018 hurricane relief efforts
- Americares: help hurricane survivors
- Habitat for Humanity: hurricane Michael disaster response
- The American Kidney Fund: help fund transportation expenses to dialysis treatment, replace lost medications, and can help with temporary housing