17 dead, 763,000 without power in Michael's aftermath

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The U.S. death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to 16 on Friday, law enforcement officials said, as rescue crews began searching hardest-hit communities in the Florida panhandle rendered almost inaccessible by storm damage.

The main Florida utility that serves most of the Panhandle is warning that some people may be without power for weeks due to Hurricane Michael.

"It's like a war zone", he said while touring the town of 1,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico.

Crews with dogs went door-to-door in Mexico Beach on Saturday and pushed aside debris to get inside badly damage structures in a second wave of searches after an initial, hasty search.

FEMA Administrator William "Brock" Long said he believed that the toll would increase, particularly as first responders got into places like Mexico Beach. "We still haven't gotten into some of the hardest-hit areas". "But we have architects and engineers and we need to make sure we make the reopening process as smooth as possible and as safe as possible".

"Very few people live to tell what it's like to experience storm surge", he said.

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State officials said Mexico Beach was under mandatory evacuation orders but some residents made a decision to stay and try to ride out the storm. Though it's unclear if any of those got out at the last minute or had successfully ridden out the storm.

Emergency services carried out dozens of rescues of people caught by swiftly moving floodwaters in North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper said. Before and after images reveal formerly lush green neighborhoods in the small community that have been completely wiped out - with most homes and businesses completely flattened or heavily damaged. So many families have lost everything. "So I followed the mandatory evacuation order and left with my wife".

"We expect that number to go up dramatically today", said Matthew Marchetti, co-founder of the Houston-based CrowdSource Rescue, adding that hopes were raised by an influx of volunteers on the weekend and the restoration of power in some areas.

Ronald, who lives in Coral Gables, said, "I'm okay".

Meanwhile in Georgia, officials are receiving reports that 84 chicken houses - estimated to hold more than 2 million chickens - were destroyed in the storm which also caused severe damage to pecan, cotton, vegetable and peanut crops.

Others came with nothing - as there was nothing left to save.

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Michael killed at least six people - including a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said.

Three days after Hurricane Michael unleashed its wrath in the Florida Panhandle, residents in some of the hardest hit areas are growing desperate for food and water. The state medical examiner's office has ruled Clark's death among five storm-related fatalities in the state.

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 October 10 and continuing. Long said Michael was one of the most intense hurricanes to hit the area since 1851. "I will be visiting both Florida and Georgia early next week".

"We are with you!" he tweeted.

HURRICANE Michael is sending fresh concerns to Florida residents as fishermen warn "big sharks" will be swept in by horrific weather conditions.

Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the USA mainland, weakened overnight to a tropical storm but marched northeast on Thursday, toppling trees with 80kph winds and bringing "life threatening" flash flooding to Georgia and Virginia, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

Florida Braces For 'Life-Threatening' Hurricane Michael To Hit Panhandle On Wednesday
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has also designated 40 law-enforcement officers for rapid deployment. Storm surge could reach a monstrous 12 feet in some areas - enough to "easily go over the roofs of some houses", he said.

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.