The death toll was expected to rise this weekend in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael as hundreds remained unaccounted for along the Florida Panhandle where decimated communities remained cutoff and in the dark.
Becky Daniel and her wife Monica Barber pulled up to the scattered remains of their demolished gulf-front home off near Mexico Beach.
- The recovery will be long, but Florida is persistent, we help each other, and we will survive.
Mexico Beach was almost obliterated by Micahel's storm surge and 155mph winds when the category four hurricane made landfall on Wednesday.
Search teams continued to pick their way through the ruins of Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town of about 1,000 people that was almost wiped off the map when Michael blew ashore there on Wednesday with devastating 155 miles per hour winds.
The death toll from hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to make landfall in the U.S. mainland, rose to 11 on Friday, with authorities warning that the number of dead could rise as emergency workers ventured more deeply into the areas devastated by the storm.
Shell-shocked survivors who barely escaped with their lives told of terrifying winds, surging floodwaters and homes cracking like eggs. When his mobile home suddenly began floating, he swam to a fishing boat and clambered aboard.
"I was going to stay here until it turned to a Cat 4", he said. "But I made it".
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How many others were not so fortunate was still not clear.
Residents of Mexico Beach had been under a mandatory evacuation order, but it is believed at least 285 people among a population of 1,000 had stayed behind 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. They hope to complete those inspections later Saturday.
Florida Senator Bill Nelson went to Panama City, up the coast from Mexico Beach, and was stunned by what he saw.
On Friday, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management reported five hurricane-related fatalities. "We are working very hard on every area and every state that was hit - and we are with you!"
"I didn't recognise nothing".
The storm then weakened to a tropical storm where it killed people in Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina, Reuters reported, citing state officials.
Tyndall Air Force Base on the Florida Panhandle suffered so much damage that the 3,600 men and women stationed there, and who were evacuated, were told not to come back.
Numerous 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated ahead of the storm. "Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life".