Survivors scramble for food and water in the wake of Hurricane Michael

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" A man walks past buildings damaged by Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida".

Dr Jay Radtke, the medical examiner for some of the areas of most concern, including Panama City and Mexico Beach, said he could not release any information on the number of dead in the six Panhandle counties under his jurisdiction. "Rescuers have so far been unable to conduct thorough searches there".

While some in the lesser-hit areas, like Tallahassee, started to get their power back on Thursday, more than 350,000 people remained without power in the Panhandle Friday morning.

Search-and-rescue teams were using sniffer dogs as they sifted through the rubble looking for victims.

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Marchetti said his volunteer search teams, consisting mostly of off-duty police officers and firefighters, had rescued or accounted for 345 others previously reported to CrowdSource Rescue.

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. "We're starting from scratch, all of us", Plushnik said. The area is home to a number of rural communities that are among the poorest in the state.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott took an aerial tour of some impacted areas on Thursday and, hours later, tweeted that he and his wife, Ann, were sheltering 50 Florida Highway Patrol officers in the governor's mansion.

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Mexico Beach was almost obliterated by Micahel's storm surge and 155mph winds when the category four hurricane made landfall on Wednesday.

According to the National Hurricane Center, it could strengthen into a major Category 3 hurricane with winds topping 111 miles per hour before it reaches Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday.

Fatalities include eight people in Florida, five people in Virginia, three people in North Carolina and a child in Georgia with a tree falling through a Florida home causing the first death on Wednesday. The rest of Mexico Beach did not fare as well, and most of the beachfront homes, restaurants and stores were obliterated by the storm.

"It's OK if you want to live on the coast or on top of a mountain that sees wildfires or whatever, but you have to build to a higher standard", he said.

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

The National Guard rescued 20 survivors on Wednesday night in Mexico Beach, the Associated Press reported.

"We were going to establish a mortuary location".

"It was the flawless beach town. We have to wait for our assessment to be completed before we can say how many are missing", said Uganda Red Cross spokeswoman Irene Nakasiita. "People will just pack up and leave".