"Very few people live to tell what it's like to experience a storm surge", Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said from Mexico Beach, a town flooded with a rush of 4.27m of seawater in the storm.
Hurricane Michael was one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the USA, and this Gulf Coast community of about 1,000 people was in its bullseye Wednesday.
"There are individuals who are deceased".
The Houston-based volunteer search-and-rescue network CrowdSource Rescue said its teams were trying to find about 2,100 people either reported missing or stranded and in need of help in Florida, co-founder Matthew Marchetti said.
Search-and-rescue teams began finding bodies in and around Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town almost obliterated by Hurricane Michael, an official said Friday as the scale of the storm's fury became ever clearer. Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press conference that an Iredell County man was killed when a tree fell on a auto, the Charlotte Observer reported.
The tally of lives lost across the South stood at 14, including the victim found in the rubble of Mexico Beach. Two out of the three people who were killed in North Carolina died when their vehicle struck a tree that had fallen because of high winds, said Adrienne Jones, deputy director for the McDowell County Emergency Medical Services.
Michael weakened to a post-tropical cyclone late Thursday and is expected to exit Virginia out into the Atlantic Ocean Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
In addition, "shipping terminals are shut down and carriers place embargoes", meaning shipments may not move through storm-affected areas for some time: "For example, if I pick up a shipment in California that's bound for Tallahassee, that carrier may say, "Hey, I will move this as close as I can, but I'm not going to deliver it until it's free and clear to deliver into Tallahassee once we know - once we get the green light from all the rescue efforts that are going on and the businesses start reopening".
Homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael are shown in this aerial photo Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Florida. - The coastal community of Mexico Beach. About 3,500 Florida National Guard troops were deployed to assist with evacuations and storm recovery, along with more than 1,000 search-and-rescue personnel, Florida Governor Rick Scott said. Both states are still recovering from major flooding following Hurricane Florence less than a month ago. The destruction in Bay County has largely been from wind damage, as opposed to the flooding during Katrina.
"We are with you!" he tweeted. It quickly bloomed from a "disturbance" with winds of 30 miles per hour on Saturday afternoon into a fearsome storm with gusts over 170 miles per hour. This is pretty extensive, the damage. Whether any of them got out at some point was unclear.
Hurricane Andrew killed 44 people in South Florida when it made landfall near Homestead on August 24, 1992.
"We had houses that were on one side of the street and now they're on the other", said Mayor Bo Patterson, who watched trees fly by his window as he rode out the storm in his home seven blocks from the beach.
In the largely destroyed oceanside town of Mexico Beach, Councilwoman Linda Albrecht learned her home was gone through online news video. "But I made it". "They're not just my officers, the people that I work with, they're my family".
The hurricane also damaged hospitals and nursing homes in the Panama City area, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients. "But in this moment, it's just too hard to do that", said Foster as she choked back tears. The roof caved in and the living room and garage of his parents' home no longer exist. "Just cleaning the yard", Katia Coonan said. And the winds were coming in and the rain was all pouring down on us and basically I waited for over an hour. "And my mom was praying with Jesus on the phone about it the whole time you know - 'Please let him be alive'".
The 44-year-old is among at least 17 who have died since Hurricane Michael made landfall on Wednesday. The US death toll has risen to at least 13 - including five in Virginia and four in Florida - and it's expected to climb.