Trump, first lady tour parts of Florida, Georgia devastated by Hurricane Michael

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U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One as he departs Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., on his way to visit areas affected by Hurricane Michael in Florida and Georgia, on October 15, 2018.

The president and first lady initially arrived in the area aboard Air Force One, the presidential jet, which landed at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach shortly after 10 a.m.

"To see this personally is very tough - total devastation", said Trump, who later travelled to neighbouring Georgia to see storm damage there.

Cathey said more than 250 residents had stayed behind when Michael came ashore on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, one of the most powerful storms to make landfall in the continental United States since records have been kept.

Needless to say, the life-threatening Hurricane Michael took over America's east coast early last week.

The Trumps then flew over devastated parts of Mexico Beach and Panama City, Florida.

The Trumps also toured the damage in Lynn Haven, Florida, and handed out supplies to residents.

Numerous houses in the town of about 1,000 people had no roofs.

"You feel sorry for people", Scott said.

"We're living in the daylight, and living in the dark once night gets here", said Port St. Joe Mayor Bo Patterson, whose town of 3,500 was without power.

"Here today the weather is just as attractive as it can be, but you look around, all you see is devastation, its god terrible", he says.

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The President said the biggest thing Monday was "just making sure everyone is safe, that they're fed".

Trump praised Rick Scott, the Florida governor, for his response to the storm, saying: "The job they've done is Florida has been incredible".

Trump's tour took him past the base before he took off again in Air Force One for Georgia, which also suffered damage as the storm plowed across the southeast of the country. They surveyed damage to cotton crops and pecan trees.

The storm crashed ashore Wednesday before moving up the East Coast with 155 miles per hour winds. Those figures do not include losses paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program, AIR Worldwide said.

Already at least 18 deaths in four states have been blamed on the hurricane as rescue crews using cadaver dogs and heavy equipment searched through collapsed homes in small towns such as Mexico Beach and Panama City for more victims. Mexico Beach was almost leveled by Michael, a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds only a few miles per hour shy of a Category 5.

Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City sustained some damage in the storm, so the church held its Sunday morning service outside. Homeowners were advised to keep toilet flushes to a minimum because the sewer system was operating only at half capacity. More than 190,000 homes and businesses in Florida were without electricity, along with about 120,000 in Georgia.

Trump said Monday that there are thousands of personnel now working to restore power to the area, but noted one issue is that many homes have been devastated beyond fix.

Power lines and telephone networks remained out of service in many neighborhoods, with only major highways cleared.

Trump tweeted before leaving the White House accompanied by his wife, Melania, that he will meet with law enforcement and government officials aiding the massive recovery effort.

Trump declared a state of emergency in Georgia last week, releasing federal resources to help the state.