How to check if your loved one is safe after Hurricane Michael

Red Cross has website to find missing individuals

Hurricane Michael lashed the Florida Panhandle as a deadly Category 4 storm, leaving a wake of destruction in its path and cutting off communication for some.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency and ordered evacuations in 22 counties, which affected about 375,000 Floridians.

For those who were in the monster storm's path, there were ways to inform loved ones of their status.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommended texting friends and family rather than calling, because phone lines are likely to be overwhelmed in a situation such as this.

On Friday night, Scott announced cell service providers are being allowed inside the affected areas to help restore cell service.

Michael Rolle has been trying for days to reach his close friend, Sam, who lives near Tallahassee.

"(It's) still busy -- still got a busy signal," Rolle said. "This is what, thee days after the storm? Still busy."

Rolle told News 6 he's trying not to think the worst, yet he's like so many people worried because of the spotty cell service along Florida's Panhandle.

"I don't even know if he's on Facebook," Rolle said.

Facebook has activated its Safety Check feature, which gives users in the area of crisis a chance to mark themselves safe. By clicking here, you can see who on your Facebook friends list lives in the affected area and whether or not those people have indicated that they are out of harm's way.

The Red Cross has a similar site called Safe and Well. There, users have the option to list themselves as safe or search a list of registrants for their loved ones. For those who mark themselves as safe, there's also an option to select a message, such as "currently at a shelter" and "will email when available" or write a custom message that loved ones will see when they search the registry. People can also call and check at 800-RED-CROSS.

There are 54 shelters open across the Sunshine State. A list of all the shelters, organized by county, is available here or you can click here to see a map view of the shelters.

For those who are worried about a friend or family member, keep in mind that FEMA, the Florida National Guard, Red Cross and countless other agencies have personnel in place to respond to affected areas as soon as it's safe.

"Floridians take care of each other. Floridians are strong. Floridians are resilient. There’s nothing our state cannot recover from, because there is no state that cares, loves, or comes together like Florida," Scott tweeted Wednesday.

Also on Friday, the Orlando Utility Commission sent 19 water employees to Bay County.

"The last time OUC sent out water crews was Hurricane Katrina, to give you an idea of how severe the damage is," agency spokesman Tim Trudell said.

Many Central Florida power crews are continuing to work 16-hour days near Tallahassee to restore power.

"It's going to be a long time before things are back to where they used to be," Trudell said.


About the Authors: