President Donald Trump visited Florida on Monday (Oct 15), almost a week after Hurricane Michael slammed the southern USA state, where thousands of people are struggling to survive without running water or electricity.
Amid the devastation caused by hurricane Michael, rescue operations in the southeastern U.S. have focused on Mexico Beach and Panama City, two Florida towns that were almost flattened and that could raise the death toll from the storm, which has taken at least 17 lives.
At least 18 people have died, and more than 1,500 are informally missing as a result of Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in the Florida panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, carrying sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. In some cases, only the foundations were left standing.
A water tower lay on its side.
"Hurricane Michael has caused devastating damage in parts of Florida and residents face a long road to recovery", Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said.
In Panama City, where Trump landed, power poles bowed toward the ground, pieces of metal roofing were scattered about and pine trees had been uprooted or snapped in half. On the drive toward Panama City, the president could see houses smashed by trees, bent billboards and a demolished trailer park.
Trump said Monday that there are thousands of personnel now working to restore power to the area, but noted one issue is that many homes have been devastated beyond fix.
Mary Frances Parrish reacts outside her heavily damaged home, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.
Jeff and Katrina Pearsey, with a ruined rental home in the Panama City area and no indication of when they could again earn a living, said they were heading to Bangor, Maine, where Katrina once worked as a nurse.
Michael made landfall in Florida before tearing into southern Georgia and moving through the Carolinas and Virginia.
"These are massive trees, that have been just ripped out of the earth", Trump told reporters. The owner, Michael Rollins, told Trump he rode out the storm. So I want to thank you.
Trump told the CBS news show 60 Minutes in an interview broadcast Sunday that he does not know if global waning is manmade, despite the scientific research showing that pollution and human activity is the major contributor. More than 190,000 homes and businesses in Florida remain without electricity.
"We still haven't gotten into the hardest-hit areas", he said, adding: "Very few people live to tell what it's like to experience storm surge, and unfortunately in this country we seem to not learn the lesson".
"This will be the second time in just over a year that we have responded to an emergency in the state, after Hurricane Irma hit last September", said IsraAID co-CEOs Yotam Polizer and Navonel Glick.
He tweeted after arriving in Florida that he is "also thinking about our GREAT Alabama farmers and our many friends in North and SC today".