Death toll from Hurricane Michael reaches 16

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

Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane - the strongest on record to hit the area - and charged north through Georgia and into the Carolinas and Virginia, wreaking havoc and causing emergencies.

Further details were not immediately available.

U.S. authorities say at least eight people are confirmed dead in Florida, five in Virginia, three in North Carolina and one in Georgia.

As of early on Saturday, state officials were reporting that at least 18 have been killed in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

A search-and-rescue team walks past a debris pile from Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach (David Goldman/AP) A damaged road after Hurricane Michael blew through Carrabelle, Florida, U.S., October 11, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media.

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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.

Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town, was almost obliterated by the hurricane, an official said Friday as the scale of the storm's fury became ever clearer.

Meanwhile, Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said he expects the death toll will rise.

A banner hangs from a damaged home as a South Florida urban search and rescue team checks for survivors of Hurricane Michael, in Mexico Beach, Florida, Oct. 12, 2018.

FEMA crews have been using bulldozers and other heavy equipment to push a path through debris to allow rescuers to probe the rubble with sniffer dogs as drone aircraft and Blackhawk helicopters searched from above.

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"We had houses that were on one side of the street and now they're on the other", he said. Many of those who did survive don't have water or power. "I was sure it would be here", Daniel said. The area is home to a number of rural communities that are among the poorest in the state.

Michael intensified surprisingly fast into a Category 4 hurricane before hitting land, forcing residents and church leaders to expedite their preparations and evacuations.

More than 940,000 homes and businesses on the U.S. East Coast were without power and it could be weeks before power is restored to the most damaged parts of Florida.

TV station WLOS reported more than 40 roads had to be closed in the county due to flooding and 18 people had to be rescued, including one involving an SUV whose driver "found her vehicle floating" when she tried driving through flood waters. It looked a couple of days ago like it was not going to be much, and now it's looking like it could be a very big one, so we're prepared.

Bob Tenbrunson, a Mexico Beach retiree, rode out the storm at his daughter's house in nearby Panama City and returned to survey the damage to his home.

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