Storm Michael death toll in USA rises to 11

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"I will not recall you and your families until we can guarantee your safety".

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. "We need to restore basic utilities, clear our roads of trees and power lines, and assess the structural integrity of our buildings".

Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a former emergency management chief for the state of Florida, said "this is what we expect with storm surge and high wind events". "We are working very hard on every area and every state that was hit - we are with you!"

Rescue teams were using sniffer dogs in a search for victims.

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The hurricane ranked 4 on the five-category Saffir-Simpson scale when it made landfall on the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday.

A group of engineers from the government software firm Tyler Technologies have revived a map showing the locations of emergency shelters and other free lodging in the wake of Hurricane Michael, which swept through the southeastern United States this week.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he would visit Florida and Georgia next week. Authorities also are searching for a missing woman whose vehicle was swept away by floodwaters.

Coastal Florida cities have been damaged beyond recognition while homes, businesses, and agriculture have been tattered or flooded from Georgia to Virginia.

In one community, Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged.

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"It's like our lives are gone, everything we have is gone now", he said. "If we're going to rebuild, do it right".

Efforts to find survivors in the rubble caused by Hurricane Michael have begun while the death toll from one of the most powerful storms in history has risen to 12 across four states.

Bob Tenbrunson, a Mexico Beach retiree, rode out the storm at his daughter's house in nearby Panama City and returned to survey the damage to his home. The hospital was running on generators after the storm knocked out power, ripped off part of its roof and smashed windows, according to a spokesman for the hospital's owner, HCA Healthcare Inc.

This photo shows debris and destruction in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, after Hurricane Michael went through the area on Wednesday.

Patterson estimated 1,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed in his town of 3,500.

As of Thursday, authorities said that 280 people were missing.

"Our search and rescue team is still on the ground evacuating people and removing them from the rubble".

An insurance company that produces models for catastrophes estimated Michael caused about $8 billion in damage, the Associated Press reported.

The storm inflicted significant damage in the Carolinas, including flash flooding, downed trees on roads, and people who needed to be rescued from flood waters.

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.

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