The death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to at least 13 on Friday amid fears it would continue to climb as search-and-rescue teams scour the debris of the Florida town that bore the brunt of the monster storm.
Less than two days after arriving on the Florida Panhandle as one of the most powerful hurricanes in USA history, a Category 4 monster with 155 miles per hour winds that sheared roofs from houses and buildings and snapped trees and power poles, Michael moved off the East Coast early Friday morning and into the Atlantic Ocean as a post-tropical storm.
"We're going to do everything we can and send people out to keep people safe".
Zahralban spoke as his team - which included a dog - was winding down its two-day search of Mexico Beach, the town of about 1,000 people that was almost wiped off the map when Michael blew ashore there Wednesday with devastating 155 miles per hour (249 kph) winds. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel were assessing the damage in the small seaside town on Friday. "But I have reasons to believe - we haven't gotten into some of the hardest hit areas, particularly the Mexico Beach area".
"Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades", Scott said.
"Unfortunately, it looks like it's coming directly at us".
Hurricane Michael could cause significantly more damage than Tropical Storm Gordon that struck the Gulf Coast last month.
State officials said Mexico Beach was under mandatory evacuation orders but some residents chose to stay and try to ride out the storm.
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While a Florida military base in the hurricane's trajectory was evacuated and its planes flown hundreds of miles away, prisoners were not evacuated, and numerous region's poor people found they had nowhere to go until it was too late to get out.
Michael left North Carolina and Virginia behind with rivers rising.
"Luckily we did not get a surge", Mr. Tenbrunson said of his home.
Roy Cooper said two people - a man and a woman - were killed in McDowell County when their vehicle hit a large tree that had fallen on the road. "I have been trying to patch it up the best I can". He told The Associated Press that searchers found the storm victim among the devastation in Mexico Beach and surrounding Bay County.
"I spent my life savings and retirement to stay here so I can't sell it now", Mr. Tenbrunson said. "We just rebuilt this".
Others came with nothing - as there was nothing left to save. Tropical storm watches are in effect in some coastal areas of Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and SC.
U.S. media on Friday quoted authorities in Jackson County, Florida, as reporting three deaths there, bringing Michael's toll to at least 16.
High winds, downed trees, streets inundated by rising waters and multiple rescues of motorists from waterlogged cars played out around Virginia and neighbouring North Carolina.
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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.
President Donald Trump announced plans to visit Florida and hard-hit Georgia early next week but did not say what day he would arrive.
The concern was for people who ignored evacuation orders ahead of the storm - which grew with surprising speed from a tropical storm into an extremely powerful hurricane in less than two days - and who stayed put in communities that were demolished by Michael's assault on Wednesday. O Virgin, Star of the Sea, our beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son on our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem, where a stormless eternity awaits us.
FEMA's Long urged communities such as Mexico Beach, where many homes were obliterated by 12 to 14 feet (3.7 to 4.3 meters) of storm surge, to rebuild to withstand future storms.
The storm, a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, tore apart entire neighbourhoods in the Panhandle and many houses in Mexico Beach were reduced to naked concrete foundations or piles of rubble.
About 5,000 USA servicemen were deployed to help with relief and recovery efforts, the Pentagon said, using 100 helicopters and 1,800 high-water vehicles.
Residents were hoping the hurricane would have the opposite effect and blow it farther offshore.
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