16 deaths in vast trail of destruction after Hurricane Michael hits Florida

Nearly 1,250 additional Alabama Power company and contracting crews were sent to the hardest hit parts of Alabama to assist with storm restoration

Seven of the Most Devastating Hurricane Michael Photos You'll Ever See

Further details were not immediately available.

The storm hit the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia hard, taking the lives of at least two people.

After devastating coastal communities in the Florida Panhandle, the remnants of the storm, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, killed five people as it passed through the U.S. state of Virginia.

Cellphone service remained down Friday in some of the areas hit the hardest, with the only lifelines for some being satellite phones carried by news crews.

The Category 4 storm made landfall Wednesday in Mexico Beach and caused widespread damage as it tore through Northwest Florida and went into Georgia.

Numerous damaged Florida buildings were not built to withstand a storm above the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, Long added.

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.

Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said he expects the death toll to rise.

A banner hangs from a damaged home as a South Florida urban search and rescue team checks for survivors of Hurricane Michael, in Mexico Beach, Florida, Oct. 12, 2018.

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Florida governor Rick Scott, called it "unimaginable destruction" and said: "So many lives have been changed forever".

"I lost everything", Morales said.

"Dawn in Panama City, Florida, revealed a sprawling mess of nearly unimaginable devastation wrought by the third-most powerful hurricane in recorded history to lash the USA mainland", as Fox News reported.

Rescue teams were using sniffer dogs in Mexico Beach on Friday in a search for victims who may be buried under the rubble in the debris-strewn community. The IRS says it will automatically provide relief for people with addresses in the counties designated a disaster area.

FEMA's Long urged communities such as Mexico Beach, where many homes were pulverized by 12 to 14 feet (3.7 to 4.3 meters) of storm surge, to rebuild to withstand future storms.

A destroyed building following Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, US.

The U.S. Army said more than 2,000 Florida National Guard soldiers were helping with recovery efforts.

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. The rest of Mexico Beach did not fare as well, and most of the beachfront homes, restaurants and stores were obliterated by the storm. We bought it four years ago and completely rebuilt it.

Thousands of people have been informally reported missing to local authorities, the Red Cross and the state, as people look for their friends and relatives. "It was bad, and now there's just nothing left".

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