Search teams comb debris for victims of deadly Hurricane Michael

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Search-and-rescue teams found at least one body in Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town almost obliterated by Hurricane Michael, an official said Friday as the scale of the storm's fury became ever clearer. The Coast Guard reported rescuing 129 people. They're surrounded now by devastation: fishing boats and cars tossed like toys, empty slabs where people hopefully escaped before houses exploded in 155 miles per hour (249 kph) winds and were washed away by the storm surge.

"It's absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic", Crown said.

Forecasters said it could bring 3 to 6 inches (7 to 14 centimetres) of rain to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia, triggering flash flooding in a corner of the country still recovering from Florence.

Michael is forecast to hit the Florida coast on Wednesday before moving over Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas on Wednesday night and Thursday.

Landfall is still expected along the Florida Panhandle sometime Wednesday afternoon. They had watched it gain strength from a category two storm on Tuesday as it crossed the Gulf of Mexico and headed for Florida.

"If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you", Mr Morgan said at a news conference.

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Search and rescue crews have been escalating efforts to reach the hardest-hit areas and check for anyone trapped or injured in the storm debris.

"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.

A Mexico Beach resident who rode out the hurricane described the impact of the storm surge to CNN. "All the stores, all the restaurants, everything - there's nothing left here anymore". "I just have to be hopeful that (the town) will be rebuilt and fixed". Last year, they welcomed children who were displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Michael snapped boats in two and hurled a large ship onto the shore, residents said. "We have done everything we can as far as getting the word out", Smith said. "We will not rest or waver until the job is done and the recovery is complete". In Charlotte County, three people became stranded in a vehicle on a bridge along Mt. Harmony Road, according to state police. Several hours passed before emergency officials could reach the unincorporated area where the girl was killed, county emergency management director Travis Brooks said. Sweet died after a tree fell on a home near Greensboro. "They're not there", she said. Water seeped into her fourth-floor apartment.

With many roads impassable, Scott says food and water "are being airdropped into the hardest-hit communities, and law enforcement are escorting resources on the road".

"As you go east of Panama City, that's where that wall of water on the eastern side of the eye wall is", said Sen.

Storm waters rising in Gulf Breeze, Florida.

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The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center as of 4 PM CDT shows that Michael has strengthened into a Category 3 major hurricane.

Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for a friend's elderly mother who thought she would be OK in her small cinderblock house just 150 yards (meters) from the Gulf.

Even before landfall, the hurricane disrupted energy operations in the Gulf, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 percent and natural gas output by almost one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated before the storm hit. State and local officials previously said a man in the state was killed Thursday when a tree fell on his auto in Iredell County.

We pray that everyone who has been affected by this storm gets back on their feet soon.

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"What's happening is search and rescue is trying to get into the rubble to make sure that there's nobody covered up, trying to assess if there's additional casualties there", Long added. "Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life".

And unless we change the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, we should expect hurricanes to intensify more rapidly in the coming decades, the scientific research group Climate Central said.

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