Early Thursday, Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm. Recovery efforts have begun. Those who were in the path of the hurricane or had to evacuate can let loved ones know they are safe on Facebook’s Safety Check or the American Red Cross Safe and Well page. Family and friends can also use these sites to check on affected loved ones.
Here is how the public can help the victims of hurricane Michael.
Following Hurricane Florence in August, the American Red Cross reported a critical need for blood and blood platelet donations. Matthew led to the cancellation of dozens of drives in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Red Cross drives can be located on the American Red Cross Blood Services website.
LifeSouth, a community blood center in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, is also holding blood drives, including mobile ones. They can be located on the LifeSouth website.
Habitat for humanity is assisting with long-term recovery efforts. “Donations will be used to respond to families affected by Hurricane Michael until Habitat for Humanity's role in meeting the need is met, at which time funds will be used for Habitat's disaster response efforts where most needed,” the organization said. Donations can be made at the Habitat for Humanity website.
“Funds raised on this campaign will be managed by The Direct Impact Fund, an independent, registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization” GoFundMe said. “The Direct Impact Fund collects and distributes funds to verified GoFundMe campaigns and aid organizations created to help those affected.”
VolunteerFlorida is recruiting volunteers to register and help disaster response organizations in the state. Once registered, organizations like the Salvation Army or American Red Cross will reach out to qualified volunteers depending on need.
If the forecasts from meteorologists weren’t enough indication of the possible severity of Hurricane Michael in the Panhandle, this alternative tracking method might -- the Waffle House in Panama City is closed.
With more than 1,500 restaurant locations across the Southeast that are typically open 24 hours every day of the year, a closure is a big deal, so much so that emergency officials informally determine how bad a storm is based on the Waffle House Index.
“If a Waffle House store is open and offering a full menu, the index is green. If it is open but serving from a limited menu, it’s yellow. When the location has been forced to close, the index is red. Because Waffle House is well-prepared for disasters… it’s rare for the index to hit red,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Panama City location is expected to reopen after Hurricane Michael passes.
Researchers said strong strong winds and tides in the ocean have brought close to 60 sea turtles back to shore between Amelia Island and St. Johns County.
“We get calls from these people who say, ‘What should I do? What should I do?’” Eleanor Maxwell said.
Maxwell, a Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol member, brought two turtles to the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience on Friday.
Known as washbacks, the babies are washing ashore on Sargasso seaweed pushed inland by strong storms, including hurricanes Florence and Michael.
When sea turtles hatch, they rely on energy stores from a yolk sack to make the multimile swim to floating masses of seaweed offshore.
If storms or currents push them to shore, the turtles are too weak to swim back out into ocean.
“They’re going to be picked up by a pelican or they’re going to get into the water and they’re just going to die. They don’t have a chance once they get to this beach,” Maxwell said.
If the babies are rescued, they’re brought to a sea turtle hospital, such as the Whitney Lab at the University of Florida in St. Augustine.
They’re cared for until they’re strong enough to be brought back out to the ocean by boat.
Researchers are asking people to keep an eye out for the post-hatchlings after the recent storms.If you find a baby sea turtle, call your sea turtle patrol group or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The FWC has a 24-hour sea turtle hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).