The main Florida utility that serves most of the Panhandle is warning that some people may be without power for weeks due to Hurricane Michael.
More than 1,700 search and rescue workers were deployed, including seven swift-water rescue teams and almost 300 ambulances, Florida Governor Rick Scott's office said.
"It's like a war zone", he said while touring the town of 1,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico.
Rescue teams, hampered by power and telephone outages, used cadaver dogs, drones and heavy equipment to hunt for people in the rubble.
Most of the search effort focused on Bay and Gulf counties, which took the brunt of the storm while Panama City and Mexico Beach, the towns nearest Michael's landfall accounted for the largest numbers reported missing, he added.
"Things, we can replace", he said, speaking on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront".
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Winds of up to 155mph uprooted trees, brought down power lines and reduced homes to splinters, lifting structures from their foundations and carrying them inland.
"Very few people live to tell what it's like to experience storm surge", Mr. Numerous 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated before the storm.
Bay County officials previously said 56 people had chosen to stay in their homes in Mexico Beach and that search and rescue teams were trying to account for those people. Some of them successfully rode out the storm. It's unclear how many people stayed behind in nearby communities.
Crews heard cries for help and crowbarred into a mobile home crumpled by the storm in Panama City, freeing a mother and daughter, both diabetics who had been trapped in a closet without insulin for two days and were on the verge of diabetic shock, rescuers said on Saturday.
"I made a decision to stay because my family chose to evacuate, but the pets had to stay here", Panama City resident John Pandullo said. "So I followed the mandatory evacuation order and left with my wife. We are still getting down there", he said. Several trees came down on their property, including one that smashed through the roof.
Power and cellphone service are starting to be restored in parts of Florida's storm-battered Panhandle. This was her dream retirement place she tells me - the last four years spent doing it up. "If the house and the cars are destroyed they can be replaced, but my niece needs her dad - and as much as I sometimes can't stand him, I would do anything to just know he's OK".
Many residents with destroyed or damaged homes counted themselves lucky to have survived.
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As of early on Saturday, state officials were reporting that at least 18 have been killed in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
Three days after Hurricane Michael unleashed its wrath in the Florida Panhandle, residents in some of the hardest hit areas are growing desperate for food and water.
Fast-moving Michael, a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale when it came ashore, was about 20 miles (35 km) northwest of Raleigh, North Carolina, at 5 pm EDT (1900 GMT) and set to speed up as it headed for the Atlantic coast, the NHC said.
"People have no idea how hard Hurricane Michael has hit the great state of Georgia", Mr. Trump tweeted.
"MOORED". Boats damaged by Hurricane Michael sit at the Moorings of Carrabelle marina on October 12, 2018, in Carrabelle, Florida.
Florida's disjointed property insurance system that relies nearly exclusively on small and midsize companies will take a multi-billion dollar loss from Hurricane Michael, but has sufficient reserves and backups that providers should be able to pay claims without problems.
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