Florida town almost wiped off the map by Hurricane Michael

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More than 940,000 homes and businesses on the US East Coast were without power, and it could be weeks before power is restored to the most damaged parts of Florida.

People walk amidst rubble in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.

Home after home was razed from its foundations in the town of around 1,000 people, leaving just bare concrete slabs.

This aerial photo shows debris and destruction in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, after Hurricane Michael went through the area on Wednesday. "We've seen a lot of signs of hope".

At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm, which is the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental USA in over 50 years.

Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, flattening houses, damaging the power grid and disrupting communication in several coastal communities.

But even as affected communities evaluate the damage left in the storm's wake, weather satellites continued to monitor Michael's progress. They're seeing firsthand the wreckage that people once called their homes.

State officials said that by one count, 285 people in Mexico Beach defied mandatory evacuation orders and stayed behind.

"I'm as eager to get back out there talking to folks", Gillum said in a Facebook message to supporters. The IRS says it will automatically provide relief for people with addresses in the counties designated a disaster area.

The death toll rose to 18 in four states as of Saturday evening, and thousands more remain unaccounted for.

"I told him, 'Hold on, just hold on, I'm calling for help now", she told CNN affiliate WFTS, sobbing. "But, holy smokes, this one kicked our butt".

Three prisons - the Gulf institution and annex, the Gulf Forestry Camp, and Panama City Work Release Center are closed until further damage assessments are made.

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"It's not going to be a normal school year".

Seminole County Emergency Management Director Alan Harris said Florida was going to "establish a mortuary location" but didn't see that "as a critical need". "So I wanted to protect them or be there for them in case something like this happened - and it did". "So far, everybody seems to be very safe".

"I've watched on television, thinking of what others have experienced, like in the Carolinas and Texas", Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey told reporters referring to earlier hurricanes. Nearly 1.2 million homes and businesses were without power Thursday because of the storm.

It weakened overnight to a tropical storm.

As it came ashore, Michael was just shy of a Category 5 - defined as a storm packing top sustained wind speeds of 157 miles per hour or above.

The storm weakened considerably by the time it reached North Carolina and Virginia, but still dumped heavy rain in areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

A man outside Tallahassee, Florida, was killed by a falling tree and was the first of "four storm-related fatalities" announced by the Gadsden County Sheriff's office.

As reported by news agency Reuters, emergency services carried out dozens of rescue operations that majorly involved rescuing people caught in the moving floodwaters in North Carolina on Thursday.

Numerous injured in Florida were taken to hard-hit Panama City, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Mexico Beach.

“We went out to the middle of St. Andrews Bay and rode out the entirety of the storm, ” said Barker, 47, a 1989 graduate of Flathead High School.

Nearly 1.2 million homes and businesses were without power from Florida to Virginia on Thursday because of the storm.

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