The Latest: 253K still without power in Florida Panhandle

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the aftermath of Hurricane Michael (all times local):

4:35 p.m.

The main Florida utility that serves most of the Panhandle is warning that some people may be without power for weeks due to Hurricane Michael.

Gulf Power officials said Saturday that some areas of Bay County on Florida’s coast could get their power restored in the next two days.

The company said that it may take six days to restore electricity to three counties near the Georgia border.

Gulf Power officials, however, did not yet have estimates on how long it will take to restore power for downtown Panama City and other towns on the coast.

More than 253,000 customers remain without power in the Panhandle. Thousands of utility linemen have been brought to help with the recovery effort.


4:35 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is calling up 500 more members of the state’s national guard as the state mounts a massive recovery effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

Scott has now called up 4,000 members of the Florida National Guard to deal with the deadly storm.

The National Guard is in addition to nearly 2,000 law-enforcement officials that have also been brought into the Panhandle.

The guard members have been helping out with search and rescue efforts but are also being used to distribute supplies in 11 counties.

Florida plans on distributing more than three million meals and two million gallons of water. Volunteer organizations are also setting up mobile kitchens across the region and plan to distribute 10,000 meals alone in the Panama City region.


3:55 p.m.

Rescuers are intensifying efforts to find survivors who might be trapped amid the ruins of a small Florida Panhandle community nearly obliterated by Hurricane Michael.

Crews with dogs went door-to-door in Mexico Beach on Saturday and pushed aside debris to get inside badly damage structures in a second wave of searches after an initial, hasty search.

Authorities say there is little doubt the death toll will rise from the storm, which made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds (249 kph) and heavy storm surge.

The tally of lives lost across the South stood at 14, including one person found in the rubble of Mexico Beach, where about 1,000 people live.


12:15 p.m.

Utility crews will be working throughout the weekend to restore power to Virginia customers.

Dominion Energy said in an outage update Saturday morning that more than 6,000 personnel are working to get power back up for 160,000 customers who remain without service.

More than 600,000 Dominion customers were impacted in what the company says was the sixth-largest outage in its history.

Dominion expects to have the “vast majority” of customers’ power restored by the end of the day Monday.

Appalachian Power reported around 9,000 customer outages as of late Saturday morning.

Michael brought high winds and flash flooding to Virginia after making landfall as a hurricane in Florida on Wednesday.


11 a.m.

Power and cellphone service are starting to be restored in parts of Florida’s storm-battered Panhandle.

State emergency management officials reported Saturday that nearly 264,000 customers remain without electricity in the state.

They also said that 80 percent of cellphone service has been restored throughout the region hit by Hurricane Michael. But the numbers remain high in the hardest-hit areas.

Bay County, which is where Panama City is located, only has 30 percent cellphone coverage. Nearly 100,000 customers in that coastal county also remain without power. Smaller coastal counties south of Panama City and rural north Florida counties also remain in the dark.

Lights have been coming back on in Tallahassee. More than 100,000 city utility customers lost power right after the storm, but as of Saturday there were about 40,000 who remained without electricity.


9 a.m.

The White House has issued an emergency declaration for the state of Alabama in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared that an emergency exists in Alabama and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from the hurricane starting Oct. 10 and continuing.

Under the declaration, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding in Dale, Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties.

Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent funding in Baldwin, Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Escambia, Mobile, Montgomery, Pike, and Russell counties and the Poarch Creek Band of Indians.


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