MEXICO CITY (CBSMiami/AP) – As relief efforts continue in the wake of Hurricane Michael, the amount of casualties continues to rise.
Authorities in Florida say Hurricane Michael has killed at least 24 people, bringing the overall death toll to 34.
Florida Emergency Management Division spokesman Alberto Moscoso says the state toll stood at 24 on Thursday evening.
A news release added three more deaths to Bay County, bringing the county’s total to 15.
It also reported one death each in Gulf and Calhoun counties, and two deaths in Jackson County.
Michael, which slammed into Florida’s Panhandle with 155 mph winds on October 10th, retained hurricane-force winds as far inland as southern Georgia, and also affected the Carolinas and Virginia. Six deaths were reported in Virginia, mostly from flash flooding. North Carolina had three deaths, and Georgia had one.
Florida Emergency Management Division spokesman Alberto Moscoso says the state toll stood at 17 on Thursday morning. It included an additional death confirmed in Liberty County. Those numbers come from fatalities confirmed as storm-related by district medical examiners and include 12 deaths from the hardest-hit Bay County.
Whit Majors, chief investigator for Bay County’s medical examiner’s office, said their three additional deaths were reported to state emergency management officials and he’s not sure why they were not added to the statewide tally.
On Wednesday, residents of Mexico Beach were allowed to return for the first time, some found there is no home to come home to.
The powerful storm raked away many houses in this Florida Panhandle community of about 1,200 people that was near ground-zero of the powerful hurricane.
Many homes in Mexico Beach were reduced to concrete slabs in the sand.
Nancy Register sobbed uncontrollably after finding no trace of the large camper where she’d lived with her husband. She was particularly distraught over the loss of an old, black-and-white photo of her mother, who died of cancer.
Husband Taylor Register said he found nothing but a stool that he uses for cutting his hair, a hose and a keepsake rock that was given to him by a friend 40 years ago.
Just up the road, tears ran down Lanie Eden’s face as she and husband Ron Eden sifted through sand in search of items they left before evacuating from the small beach house they’ve rented each October for years. They didn’t find much – just a large pack of toilet paper that somehow stayed dry and a son’s camp chair.
The Edens, who are from Fort Knox, Kentucky, and are temporarily staying in Alabama, were stunned to see mountains of debris and countless destroyed buildings as they drove into town for the first time. In a state of condominium towers, Mexico Beach was one of the few remaining places with small houses and a 1950s feel.
“Basically, we lost ‘old Florida.’ It’s all gone,” said Lanie Eden.
In Bay County, home to Mexico Beach and Panama City, more than half of the households and businesses remained without electricity. Inland, in Calhoun County, 98 percent of the customers didn’t have power Wednesday morning, according to the emergency management website. And in Jackson County, which borders Alabama and Georgia, about 83 percent were without power.
In the meantime, in many areas devastated by the hurricane, law enforcement officials are battling looting of homes and businesses.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)