Searchers find body in hurricane-stricken town, Death toll at 14

Nearly 1,250 additional Alabama Power company and contracting crews were sent to the hardest hit parts of Alabama to assist with storm restoration

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The U.S. death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to 16 on Friday, law enforcement officials said, as rescue crews began searching hardest-hit communities in the Florida panhandle rendered almost inaccessible by storm damage.

Further details were not immediately available.

Based on barometric pressure, Michael was also the third most powerful hurricane to ever hit the US mainland, behind the Labor Day storm of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator William "Brock" Long said that authorities as of Friday morning had confirmed 11 deaths in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. "We are working very hard on every area and every state that was hit - and we are with you!"

Hurricane Michael is rapidly intensifying as it enters the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to strike Florida on Wednesday, forecasters said.

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

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Rescue teams, hampered by power and telephone outages, were going door-to-door and using cadaver dogs, drones and heavy equipment to hunt for people in the rubble in Mexico Beach and other Florida coastal communities, such as Port St. Joe and Panama City.

Search and rescue teams have found a body in the Florida Panhandle town almost wiped out by Hurricane Michael, and authorities said there is little doubt the death toll will rise further.

Governor Rick Scott said state officials still "do not know enough" about the fate of those who stayed behind in the region.

Search teams used dogs for people killed or trapped in debris, including in hardest-hit Mexico Beach. Just shy of a Category 5 storm, Michael had become the most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle.

"We do know that there has been damage to several of our church buildings", Kendrick said.

Dozens of structures in Mexico Beach - homes, shops and restaurants - were lifted off their foundations by storm surge and 155-mile per hour (250 kph) winds and moved hundreds of feet inland or smashed to bits.

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She said local television stations were knocked off the air for two days, and authorities were relying on the radio station of the Gulf Coast State College to broadcast public service bulletins.

Downed trees from Hurricane Michael prevent people from returning to their damaged homes.

But judging from the number of homes reduced to "sticks", he said "my sense is they are going to find more victims".

More than 940,000 homes and businesses on the US East Coast were without power on Friday and it could be weeks before power is restored to the most damaged parts of Florida. The Coast Guard reported rescuing 129 people.

Mexico Beach, a gorgeous beachfront city, now looks like an apocalyptic mess, according to survivors. "It was terrible, and now there's just nothing left".

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