Death Toll From Michael Rises to at Least 13

Hurricane Michael leaves massive destruction in the US

At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm.

Head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, called Mexico Beach "ground zero" due to the damage.

At the National Hurricane Center, as the storm's growing power was becoming clear, one forecaster wrote that its rapid intensification in the face of unfavorable high-altitude winds "defies traditional logic".

Meanwhile, thousands of National Guard troops, law enforcement officers and rescue teams still had much to do in the hardest hit area: Florida's Panhandle.

The Environmental Protection Agency says there were no reports of oil spills or other hazardous materials, as occurred during Hurricane Harvey a year ago in Houston and Hurricane Florence last month in the Carolinas.

"It looks like an atomic bomb had hit our city", David Barnes, of Panama City, told the Panama City News Herald. The suspected tornadoes were in James City/New Kent, Halifax, Gloucester, Pittsylvania and Amelia, he said.

"I think that we had an exceptionally high rate of evacuees because we had the message, we kept putting it out", Sheriff Smith told Fox's "Your World with Neil Cavuto". But with heavy damage to the main power lines, he said residents will not have basic needs for a long time. Officials said more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity and 20,000 utility workers had been deployed to restore power.

Michael weakened to a post-tropical cyclone late Thursday and is expected to exit Virginia out into the Atlantic Ocean Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Sarah Radney saw trees falling down all around her grandparents' home when Hurricane Michael roared over Georgia. Four pine trees had crashed through the roof of her apartment, almost hitting two people. "Power outages is the least of our worries", said Coaker. The sixth-grader recently was in a school play and started playing trumpet in her school band. Roy and Amber Rodney said their daughter loved to perform.

In Florida, officials reported four deaths related to the storm, including a man who was killed when a tree crashed through the roof of his home in Greensboro. Authorities did not discuss the circumstances of their deaths but their bodies have been taken to the medical examiner's office to determine the cause of death. They included a 45-year-old man swept from his vehicle during a flash flood in Pittsylvania County, state police said.

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So far, Coast Guard crews in Florida have rescued 40 people and assisted 232.

Thousands of residents in the Florida Panhandle are slowly returning to their homes and discovering that everything or nearly everything they owned has been reduced to rubble.

"You can't make sense of it, but what you do is you take the situation, and what we have to make certain that our kids know is that we must be resilient", Smith said. "It's just stuff we can replace".

In Panama City, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Mexico Beach, buildings were crushed and boats were scattered around.

But even as affected communities evaluate the damage left in the storm's wake, weather satellites continued to monitor Michael's progress. But "we have to make sure things are safe".

"For North Carolina, Michael isn't as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert", Gov. Roy Cooper said. More than 53 poultry houses in southwestern Georgia were destroyed, they said.

Update (8:21 a.m.): Reports of damage are coming in from throughout Hampton Roads as the sun rises on Friday morning. "So we're just trying to give people hope at this point".

Ken Widelski, NOAA/NWS emergency-response meteorologist, said the storm presented a risk of more flooding for communities in SC and North Carolina still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall last month as a Category 1 storm but soaked the area after stalling for several days.

In North Carolina's mountains, motorists had to be rescued Thursday from cars trapped by high water.

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