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By Daniel R. Petrolia and William C. Walton
For Cainnon Gregg, 2018 started out as a great year. After leaving his job as an installation artist to become a full-time oyster farmer in Wakulla County, Florida in 2017, Gregg began raising small oysters in baskets or bags suspended in the shallow, productive coastal waters of Apalachicola Bay.
Raising oysters "off-bottom" this way takes a lot of time and money, but has a big potential payoff. They are destined for the high-end raw bar market, where offerings are denoted by specific appellations, like "Salty Birds" (Cainnon's oysters), "Navy Coves" (from Alabama) and "Murder Points" (also from Alabama), and can retail for twice the price of oysters harvested from traditional on-bottom reefs.
On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, just over a week after the base was largely destroyed during Hurricane Michael.
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Super Typhoon Yutu hammered the U.S. territories in the Northern Mariana Islands early Thursday morning, making it the strongest storm to hit U.S. territory this year, the Associated Press reported.
The storm hit with the power of a Category 5 hurricane when it struck the largest Northern Mariana Islands of Saipan and Tinian, home to 55,000 people, with winds of 174 miles per hour, knocking out power and water and destroying homes, CNN reported.
The death toll from Hurricane Michael climbed to 18 Saturday after a victim was discovered in Virginia, but officials think it could climb higher still as search and rescue efforts continue in the most hard hit areas around the Florida Panhandle, CNN reported.
Panama City Fire Department Battalion Chief David Collier told CNN he thought the final death toll just in his city and surrounding communities could reach the double digits.
"Do you still think that climate change is a hoax?" correspondent Lesley Stahl asked the president point-blank.
Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon, leaving two dead and nearly 500,000 without power as it rammed through Florida, Georgia and Alabama, BBC News reported.
With winds of 155 miles per hour, it was the third strongest storm in recorded history to hit the U.S. and the strongest ever to hit the affected area, The Washington Post reported.
If it retains its strength, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said it could be the strongest hurricane to hit the Panhandle in recorded history. It could also be the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. this year.