"We're going into recovery mode, unfortunately", said fire Chief Alex Baird of Panama City, one of the coastal Florida communities clobbered by the hurricane that made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, packing more than 225 km/h winds and deadly storm surges.
Relief efforts are being hampered by a lack of telecommunications in parts of Florida hit by Hurricane Michael.
It's been five days since Hurricane Michael decimated Mexico Beach, Florida, and dozens of residents are still nowhere to be found. There are also 17 distribution points throughout Florida and Georgia where people can get food and water in places where stores remain closed or there are limited supplies.
Florida officials also had to evacuate about 3,000 inmates from two prisons that were damaged by the hurricane.
Numerous houses in Mexico Beach had no roofs. "You're a great governor", Trump said.
"We're getting our stuff and we're going", said Jeff Pearsey, 48.
"Some of them have no trace of a home".
Trump flew above the Panhandle to see the damage and immediately praised Republican Gov. Rick Scott for an "incredible" response to the disaster.
Tyndall Air Force Base, located between Panama City and Mexico Beach, suffered extensive damage and reports had speculated on the fate of a number of F-22 fighter jets that could not be flown out ahead of Michael's arrival.
The storm crashed ashore Wednesday before moving up the East Coast with 155 miles per hour winds. Those figures do not include losses paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program or uninsured property, AIR Worldwide said.
"The job they've done in Florida has been incredible and likewise, I'm hearing in Georgia very good things".
President Donald Trump talks with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (from left), Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson, and FEMA director Brock Long, as they tour a neighborhood on Monday affected by Hurricane Michael.
Already at least 18 deaths in four states have been blamed on the hurricane as rescue crews using cadaver dogs and heavy equipment searched through collapsed homes in small towns such as Mexico Beach and Panama City for more victims.
Fears were mounting for those who did not heed evacuation orders before Hurricane Michael bulldozed large swaths of Florida's Panhandle, and residents in the hardest-hit areas grew increasingly desperate for provisions.
Panama City, Fla. -based Bay Area Medical Sacred Heart began evacuating its 200 patients October 11 after the storm's winds blew out the hospital's windows and caused a section of the roof above the hospital's materials management building to collapse. Homeowners were advised to keep toilet flushes to a minimum because the sewer system was operating only at half capacity.
Trump said Monday that there are thousands of personnel now working to restore power to the area, but noted one issue is that many homes have been devastated beyond fix. "We've seen mostly water". The White House has not identified the communities Trump will visit.
Trump declared a state of emergency in Georgia last week, releasing federal resources to help the state.
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