Monday morning began with nearly 50 people still missing in the wake of Hurricane Michael, according to People. The Category 4 storm landed on the Florida panhandle with winds raging at 155 mph, ripping apart buildings and tearing trees right out of the ground.
In the days following the storm, emergency responders were flooded with calls about missing people. Now, the number has fallen sharply. According to the mayor of Mexico Beach, Al Cathey, 289 people chose to stay in the area despite evacuation warnings. On Sunday night, 46 of them were still missing. This number fell to just three as of Monday afternoon, ABC News reported. Search and rescue teams are making a final sweep of the area in an attempt to locate the three still-missing residents of Mexico Beach.
Hurricane Michael’s death toll in the U.S. has climbed to 18, with one confirmed death in Mexico Beach, which was one of the areas that were hit hardest by the storm. There are still 150,000 people in Florida with no power as of Monday afternoon, though this number has been reduced dramatically as well. At one point, half a million people in four states were in the dark after Michael made landfall.
Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited Florida on Monday to tour some of the areas hit hardest by the storm. The President said the panhandle is in “total devastation” following Michael. The Trumps are scheduled to visit Georgia next.
Florida governor Rick Scott said that more than 1,700 rescue workers have been deployed across the state, according to the BBC. He added that Mexico Beach looked like “a war zone” in the wake of the hurricane. Many buildings in Mexico Beach were ripped to shreds and otherwise irreparably damaged, including the area’s police station.
Residents of Mexico Beach and surrounding areas have already started cleaning up the mess, but officials have warned that the recovery process will take weeks and months. As a result, Mexico Beach and the rest of the Florida panhandle will likely never look quite the same.
Hurricane Michael became dangerous very quickly. The storm escalated dramatically as it reached the unseasonably warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and quickly became a raging Category 4 just before it landed in Florida. Michael was an extremely powerful Category 4. Storms are classified as Category 5 if winds reach speeds of 157 mph.
Historical weather data shows that Michael was the third most powerful storm ever to strike the U.S., and the worst storm in history to hit this part of Florida.