Hurricane Michael's death count rises after Virginia reports several fatalities

An infrared satellite image of Cyclone Leslie approaching the Iberian Peninsula

An infrared satellite image of Cyclone Leslie approaching the Iberian Peninsula

"We've got to finish search and rescue".

While we might not get more storms in a warmer climate, most studies show storms will get stronger and produce more rain.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who was going out with the National Guard Friday to survey the damage from the air and on the ground, called it "unimaginable destruction".

The largest blackouts are in North Carolina, where officials said more than 730,000 customers are without power. "So many families have lost everything", he said.

Officials said they similarly received inquiries about thousands of people who were missing in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma previous year as crews fanned out across the Keys to reduce that number.

At least two deaths have been blamed on Michael as it blasted Florida and Georgia.

More than 375 000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in. Some areas remain out of reach to authorities.

Linda Marquardt and her husband somehow survived the very worst of it in Mexico Beach, where Hurricane Michael's eye passed directly over their home. It was just short of being categorized as level 5.

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The storm, which came ashore as a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, tore entire neighborhoods in the Panhandle apart, reducing homes and businesses to piles of wood and siding, damaging roads and leaving scenes of devastation. "It was so scary you'd poo yourself", said retiree Tom Garcia, 60, who was trapped inside his Mexico Beach home as water poured in to waist height. Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center was treating some, but the hospital evacuated 130 patients as it faced challenges of running on generators after the storm knocked out power, ripped off part of its roof and smashed windows, a spokesman for the hospital's owner HCA Healthcare said in an email.

More than 400,000 people in Florida, Georgia and Alabama were without power. "The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle". Long said Michael was one of the most intense hurricanes to hit the area since 1851.

There have been six confirmed storm-related deaths so far - four in Florida's Gadsden County, one in Georgia, and one in North Carolina.

It is gone and done, the center noted, adding: "This is the last public advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center on this system". Only first responders were allowed in and an 8pm curfew was imposed. Previous year saw a slew of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic, including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused at least $125 billion (€108.2 billion) in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

FEMA administrator Brock Long said, "Mexico Beach took the brunt".

Search and rescue teams are combing through shattered USA communities looking for victims of Hurricane Michael, which carved out a swathe of destruction in the Florida Panhandle, killing at least six in three states. The Panhandle is largely populated by small towns, spread out across dense, forested areas, which has only worsened more post-disaster communications problems when cell phone towers and internet services go out.

Hurricane Michael will also cause almost one million people to be without power, not just on the coast but inland as well in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. As the tropical storm continued to weaken it was still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes.

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