Hurricane Michael Death Toll May Rise as Rescue Efforts Continue

Weakening Hurricane Michael Swirls Over North Carolina in Satellite Images

Days after Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida panhandle, the death toll has climbed to at least 18.

The mammoth storm, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday, claimed lives in four states, but Florida suffered the worst damage by far.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said the storm had caused "unbelievable devastation" and the priority for the moment was looking for survivors among residents who failed to heed orders to evacuate.

More than 757,000 customers are still without power in seven states following the storm, which touched down on the Panhandle as one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the United States, leaving a trail of destruction that stretched as far as Virginia. "We've got to finish search and rescue".

Residents have been waiting in long lines to collect bottle water and ready-to-eat meals (MREs) at several distribution centers.

As somber residents began making it back to homes still intact, officials said it could take 10 days to compile a final damage estimate.

Some were moved hundreds of feet inland while others were simply smashed to bits. He said the storm took out his house built in the mid-80s as well as newer buildings put up recently. But he gave no information on how many planes were on the base during the storm or how many were damaged.

Michael crashed ashore Wednesday as a Category 4 monster, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to make a US landfall.

As devastated as the area is, God can be found.

Underlining the unpredictability of modern storms, a category one hurricane dubbed Leslie was heading Saturday on a highly unusual path toward the Iberian peninsula.

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The storm was over the open Atlantic, east of Norfolk, Virginia, early Friday after leveling entire communities on the US Gulf Coast.

The front door of Bay Medical Sacred Heart in Panama City was boarded up Friday and water service hadn't been restored but a handmade sign directed patients to the emergency room, which remains operational. A few stores were reopening, and cars lined up at the few open gas stations. "We're starting from scratch, all of us", Plushnik said. "But lots of our members are not doing so well".

Communication in and out of Mexico Beach is near impossible.

"I spent my life savings and retirement to stay here". "Can't tell the difference between what I've picked and what I haven't". "I can't sell it now".

"I'm the idiot that rode it out here in this place", said Blackwell, 65, sweat dripping from his face.

But some found nothing left to save.

There is hope that the death toll won't rise significantly, reports the Miami Herald, as Seminole County Emergency Management Director Alan Harris stated that a makeshift "mortuary location" is no longer being considered. Four people in Florida, a child in Georgia and a man in North Carolina also died.

Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the U.S. mainland, weakened to a tropical storm and pushed northeast on Thursday, bringing drenching rains to Georgia.

Daniel Fraga, an electrician, told AFP he has only an extremely weak and intermittent signal. "Every time something like this happens, you have to say to yourself, 'Is there something we can do better?"'

Tyndall Air Force Base, home to F-22 stealth fighters, suffered extensive damage, according to aerial photos of the coastal facility.

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