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14 October 2018, 10:34 | Ross Houston
Death Toll From Michael Rises to at Least 13
The storm was the strongest on record to hit the Florida Panhandle and the third most powerful to strike the USA mainland.
In one community, Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged.
Across the storm-hit United States region, relief efforts were shaping up.
Communication in and out of Mexico Beach is near impossible.
Reuters adds that because of the devastation, "cadaver dogs, drones, and heavy equipment" are being employed to search for survivors and the dead.
Teams have found 520 people but more than 1,500 are still missing, though plans to set up a makeshift mortuary in Seminole County have been scrapped, leading to speculation that the death toll is unlikely to rise dramatically.
Search-and-rescue teams yesterday found a body in the Florida Panhandle town almost wiped out by Hurricane Michael, and authorities said that there is little doubt the death toll will rise further. It pushed a wall of seawater inland, causing widespread flooding.
People who live in Mexico Beach don't know where to start.
So far, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said more than 25,000 structures have been cleared by Urban Search and Rescue teams and almost 1,800 emergency personnel are on the ground. Residents still unaccounted for could be trapped in isolated areas and crews need to go door-to-door because there is no power and cellphone service is spotty. A CNN reporter on the air read off several names of residents he had spoken with, to let concerned parties know they were safe. Roads were impassable and canals were choked with debris.
Montgomery recalled passing a line of collapsed homes and seeing a woman sitting on a folding chair, smiling and waving even though her entire house had vanished.
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"Hope is that even if the storm does come, even if I lose my vehicle, my house, my family, even if I lose my life, blessed be God", he said. "Doing everything they can to get stuff done", Ethan Studebaker said. "All these electrical poles and water lines are busted". "They're not just my officers, the people that I work with, they're my family".
"Pine forests were no longer - they were all sticks that were broken in two", Nelson, a Democrat, told Fox News.
Large restoration efforts narrowed traffic down to a single lane on some major streets, such as Thomasville Road, but the inconveniences didn't seem to bother residents Terry and Katia Coonan.
There were still 1.3 million customers without power across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama and Virginia as of 5 a.m. Saturday.
Five people, including a firefighter, died in Virginia as flooding caused massive damage in an area already hard hit by Hurricane Florence last month.
More than 940,000 homes and businesses on the U.S. East Coast were without power and it could be weeks before power is restored to the most damaged parts of Florida.
Long asked people in the areas directly hit by the storm to be patient for what is poised to be a long recovery, because it will take time to assess the damage and confront the destruction.
"If we lose only one life, to me that's going to be a miracle", Cathey said.
"We were going to establish a mortuary location".
According to the National Hurricane Center, Michael had moved into the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Norfolk, Virginia by early Friday morning.
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