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They Stayed to Brave Michael. Now, Dozens Are Missing

Rescue teams are on the hunt in Mexico Beach, one of the cities hardest hit by the hurricane
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2018 7:32 AM CDT
A member of a South Florida urban search and rescue team sifts through a debris pile for survivors of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., on Sunday.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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(Newser) – Chilling news out of Mexico Beach, Fla., where officials have been trying to track down hundreds of people who said they wouldn't evacuate before Hurricane Michael bore down on them. Although there's been just one confirmed death in the city—called the hurricane's "Ground Zero" by the Daily BeastABC News and CNN report that between 30 and close to 50 people were considered missing as of Sunday. Officials, however, say it's been hard to figure out how many residents who initially said they were staying later fled the city, per Mayor Al Cathey. Rescuers are now sifting through the debris with dogs to see if they can find any of the missing; Cathey tells KTRK that food and water have been brought in for residents who remained as the hurricane wiped out their seaside community.

Other parts of Bay County were also devastated, with Panama City officials noting the challenge of accessing remote areas, often having to use chainsaws and bulldozers to make their way through rubble. Panama City Fire Chief Alex Baird tells CNN it could take weeks to complete the hundreds of requests for resident checks that have been received. Schools throughout the Panhandle region, which still remains without power or reliable cellphone service in many parts, were also slammed. "I would say every single school in Bay County has some type of damage," a local school board member says, noting it may take weeks, months, or even years to get some of them fully back up and running. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports on one house, "built for 'the big one,'" that stands tall among Mexico Beach's oceanside ruins. (Read more Hurricane Michael stories.)

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