After Hurricane Michael, hard-hit communities begin picking up the pieces

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Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said he expected the death toll to rise.

Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the USA mainland, weakened overnight to a tropical storm but marched northeast on Thursday, toppling trees with 80kph winds and bringing "life threatening" flash flooding to Georgia and Virginia, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

"There are individuals who are deceased".

Michael killed at least six people - including a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said.

The number of fatalities is expected to rise further as rescuers go door to door and comb through the rubble in Mexico Beach and other Florida coastal communities such as Port St. Joe and Panama City.

One body was found in the wreckage of a home in the town on Friday, but teams planned to be back out to comb through the debris on Saturday.

"It was life or death", Garcia said through tears Friday as he walked amid the destruction in Mexico Beach.

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". "Houses where the gas was left on caught fire in Mexico Beach, threatening to burn down the entire neighborhood".

"The big problem with this hurricane was the tremendous power, and fortunately it was very fast", Mr. Trump told reporters the Oval Office. The destruction in Bay County has largely been from wind damage, as opposed to the flooding during Katrina. It was just short of being categorized as level 5. This is pretty extensive, the damage.

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Hurricane Andrew killed 44 people in South Florida when it made landfall near Homestead on August 24, 1992.

Long said the storm posed a direct threat to people who ignored warnings and evacuation orders on the coastlines, particularly given the threat of storm surge capable of tearing apart and flattening buildings.

Senior did not immediately know the numbers of patients who were transferred but said the majority involved nursing home residents. "I hope we don't see it climb dramatically". "The officers, I finally made accountability of them all today, two days after the fact". "The people of Florida rely on Governor Scott for accurate storm response and safety information - and a false ad suggesting Floridians should not listen to the Governor isn't just ill-timed, it's unsafe".

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center in hard-hit Panama City, 32 km northwest of Mexico Beach, was treating some of the injured. He said it was unclear if the man lived alone or with a family. "They didn't have a place to go". "I have been up since 3:30 or 4 a.m. emailing and checking on staff to see if they are safe". They're surrounded now by devastation: fishing boats and cars tossed like toys, empty slabs where people hopefully escaped before houses exploded in 155 miles per hour (249 kph) winds and were washed away by the storm surge. The roof caved in and the living room and garage of his parents' home no longer exist.

As one of the strongest hurricanes ever to make US landfall, Hurricane Michael wrecked extensive damage, but the theme emerging Thursday was that a combination of deft forecasting, quick emergency response, and a fortuitous path prevented the disaster from being much worse. "The dog was right here and she would not leave my side and she would not move".

"We didn't expect it to get this bad", she told CNN via Instagram. And the winds were coming in and the rain was all pouring down on us and basically I waited for over an hour.

"We always plan a fishing trip about this time of the year and the storm makes the fishing better". "And my mom was praying with Jesus on the phone about it the whole time you know - 'Please let him be alive'".

Some of the worst damage was in Mexico Beach, where Michael crashed ashore on Wednesday as a Category 4 monster with 250km/h winds and a storm surge of 2.7 meters.

The potent Michael claimed lives in Florida, Georgia and Virginia.Four people drowned in Virginia and a Hanover County firefighter died, the Associated Press reported.