President Trump Just Visited the Trail of Devastation Hurricane Michael Left Behind

It’s the 12th billion-dollar disaster in the United States this year. 

Evan Vucci/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

On Monday, President Donald Trump headed to Florida to tour the areas affected by Hurricane Michael. Last week, the storm made landfall as a powerful Category 4 in Florida’s Panhandle, leaving behind a wake of devastation and destruction. 

He also used the opportunity to give some words of support to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for Senate, saying he did an “incredible job” in the aftermath. The president also thanked first responders, law enforcement, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for their efforts in the storm recovery.

“This has been the worst nightmare I’ve ever been through in my life,” Dawn Vickers, a Florida resident who rode out the storm, told CNN. The 155-mph storm made landfall in Mexico Beach, Florida, claiming the lives of 18 people so far and left 1.3 million customers in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia without power. Mexico Beach city manager Tanya Castro has said that it could take up to 18 months before the town is up and running again. Officials have estimated that close to 300 people did not heed evacuation warnings. 

The extreme winds and storm surge destroyed homes and businesses along the coast. In Panama City, which did not fare much better than Mexico Beach, power companies are scrambling to get lights back on for its customers, but acknowledged that it could take a long period of time. “There’s no timetable other than we believe it’ll be weeks,” Jeff Shepard, a spokesperson for Gulf Power told the Panama City News Herald. “It’s a total system rebuild for the hardest-hit areas of Bay County.”

Nearby in Lynn Haven, which also suffered severe damage from the storm, Cassidy Nelson, the owner of Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q opened his doors to hungry Floridians over the weekend. “All of my family is here serving,” he told the News Herald, “I just wanted to help the community.”

As washed out roads and downed power lines make it difficult for officials to bring in supplies for survivors, FEMA has set up food and water distribution points around the region. So far, the agency has distributed 700,000 meals and one million liters of water

Hurricane Michael also wreaked havoc on Georgia as the first major hurricane to hit the state in more than a century. A Georgia town more than 100 miles inland suffered catastrophic damage. An 11-year-old girl was killed when storm winds ripped through her grandparent’s home. Hundreds of thousands of customers were left without power after Michael’s 115-mph winds destroyed homes and businesses and closed down roads in the state.

Early estimates have put damages in the $8 billion dollar range, which would make Hurricane Michael the 12th billion-dollar disaster in the United States this year. 

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend