“Homes are gone, businesses are gone. Roads and infrastructure along the storm’s path are destroyed,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday morning at a press conference after then-category 4 Hurricane Michael ravaged the Florida panhandle, leaving devastation in its wake. “This hurricane was an absolute monster.”
Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday near Mexico Beach, bringing sustained winds of 155 miles per hour to the small town near Panama City as it came ashore.
FEMA Director held a press conference Thursday morning, and explained their efforts today are search and rescue in the areas that were hardest hit, working with the State of Florida, National Guard, Coast Guard and local first responders to work through the damage.
“Today the top focus is search and rescue,” Gov. Scott said. “We pray that Floridians stayed safe.”
FEMA Brock Long said the next priority is then getting access back to communication, transportation and power.
“The power isn’t going to be on for a while,” Long explained. “We have to survey and assess bridges and roadways for safety before we begin to restore power.”
Scott says the Florida DOT is making a massive effort to clear debris along critical roadways so first responders, National Guard, medical personnel and utility crews can get where they are needed most.
“Do not get out on the roads today. Do not travel home today,” Scott emphasized. “Roads are not open and you will not be able to get home if you live on or near the coast.”
Scott asked for patience and understanding as crews work around the clock to make sure conditions are safe for everyone to return. He said that applies to those who sheltered in place—asking all to stay inside if it is not safe to leave, and to not go out explore the damage, as “the worst thing you can do now is to act foolishly and put yourself and your family in danger, or keep law enforcement and rescue workers from saving someone’s life.”
“Be safe,” Scott stressed, highlighting generator safety as essential for those using them. “Do not put a running generator in your home. Look at the instructions, follow them to a t.”
Scott says he spoke to President Trump moments before the press conference; he said the president is committed to make every federal resource available to help the recovery.
NOAA officials say the system is moving rapidly northeast into South and North Carolina Thursday, where there is an enhanced risk for tornadoes and there will be rough winds and surf conditions, in addition to widespread to moderate river flooding in North Carolina. Because the system is moving so rapidly, it is expected to be out of that area by Friday.