The Latest: Utilities slowly come back in storm-hit Florida

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the aftermath of Hurricane Michael (all times local):

11 a.m.

Power and cellphone service is starting to be restored in parts of Florida’s storm-battered Panhandle.

State emergency management officials reported Saturday that nearly 264,000 customers remain without electricity in the state.

They also said that 80 percent of cellphone service has been restored throughout the region hit by Hurricane Michael. But the numbers remain high in the hardest-hit areas.

Bay County, which is where Panama City is located, only has 30 percent cellphone coverage. Nearly 100,000 customers in that coastal county also remain without power. Smaller coastal counties south of Panama City and rural north Florida counties also remain in the dark.

Lights have been coming back on in Tallahassee. More than 100,000 city utility customers lost power right after the storm, but as of Saturday there were about 40,000 who remained without electricity.

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9 a.m.

The White House has issued an emergency declaration for the state of Alabama in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared that an emergency exists in Alabama and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from the hurricane starting Oct. 10 and continuing.

Under the declaration, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding in Dale, Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties.

Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent funding in Baldwin, Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Escambia, Mobile, Montgomery, Pike, and Russell counties and the Poarch Creek Band of Indians.

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10 p.m. Friday

The Internal Revenue Service says victims of Hurricane Michael will get a grace period before having to file some tax returns and payments.

The IRS said Friday it’s offering the relief in parts of Florida and other regions that may be added later to the disaster area as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Individuals who had a valid extension to Oct. 15 for filing their 2017 return now will have until Feb. 28, 2019, to file. Because tax payments related to the 2017 returns were due on April 18, however, those payments don’t qualify for relief.

The new Feb. 28 deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income-tax payments normally due on Jan. 15, 2019, and to quarterly payroll and excise tax returns due on Oct. 31, 2018 and Jan. 31, 2019. The IRS says it will automatically provide relief for people with addresses in the counties designated a disaster area.

Taxpayers who qualify for relief but live outside the disaster area can call the IRS at 866-562-5227.

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For the latest on Hurricane Michael, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

Associated Press

Associated Press

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