Hurricane Michael leaves behind trail of devastation, toll reaches 17

Hurricane Michael Is Most Powerful Storm To Hit Florida Panhandle: Help With Red Cross

Hurricane Michael leaves massive destruction in the US

"They might have lost their house".

Drone footage of Mexico Beach showed a stunning landscape of devastation.

"All of my furniture was floating", said Marquardt, 67.

Authorities have set up distribution centers to dole out food and water to victims, who just were coming to grips with the brutal realities of their situation. "People will just pack up and leave".

More than 1.5 million homes and businesses on the U.S. East Coast were without power on Friday as Hurricane Michael and its remnants marched from Florida to Virginia, according to local power companies.

In Panama City, near where Michael came ashore on Wednesday afternoon, there were uprooted trees and downed power lines.

"Tropical storm wind gusts will continue across much of SC and central and eastern North Carolina, with sustained tropical storm force winds expected along the coast of the Carolinas", the agency said.

In North Carolina's mountains, drivers also had to be plucked from cars in high water. High winds toppled trees and power lines. Similar scenes played out in parts of Virginia as the storm raced seaward.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the United States mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969.

Hundreds of thousands of people remain without electricity in Florida, Georgia and Virginia, and officials say it could be weeks before power is fully restored.

As of 2 p.m. EST, the tropical storm was 25 miles south of Greensboro, North Carolina.

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.

Mexico Beach, is one of many white-sand beaches along the Florida Panhandle, but unlike communities like Panama City Beach, it has no large scale resorts run by big chains.

Aluminium siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows.

Florida has been battling the scourge of the poisonous red tide algae blooms for most of the summer, with tens of thousands of dead marine life, including fish, dolphins, manatees and turtles, washing up on beaches along the state's south-western coast.

"Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm", said Florida Governor Rick Scott.

An insurance company that produces models for catastrophes estimated Michael caused about $8 billion in damage. "Now that the storm has passed through Florida and Georgia, PDA has reached out to the impacted presbyteries and will be deploying national response teams early next week, as well as offering emergency grants". The figure doesn't factor in losses backed by the National Flood Insurance Program. It was racing to the northeast at 24 miles per hour (39 kph) amid warnings it could spread damaging winds and more flash flooding in the region before moving offshore. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his auto.

Rescuers say they expect the death toll from Hurricane Michael to increase as they comb through devastation left by the "monster storm".

More than 375,000 people along the Gulf Coast were given mandatory evacuation orders, but many people defied the calls.

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.

The guard members have been helping out with search and rescue efforts but are also being used to distribute supplies in 11 counties.

The small town of Mexico Beach - population 1,200 - took the full force of Michael and first reports indicated the community had been all but wiped out, with evacuated residents urged to stay well away from the area. The task ahead: finding and hopefully safely accounting for all those who stayed behind.

Tamiya Waldon looks out at the damage to her neighbourhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., on Wednesday. But the fate of many residents was unknown.

Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for the elderly mother of a friend.

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