Meanwhile in Georgia, officials are receiving reports that 84 chicken houses - estimated to hold more than 2 million chickens - were destroyed in the storm which also caused severe damage to pecan, cotton, vegetable and peanut crops.
So far, one body has been found in Mexico Beach, but authorities say there is little doubt the death toll will rise.
"I think you're going to see it climb", Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said of the death count at a news conference.
At least 12 people were killed in the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia as Hurricane Michael continues its rampage after it slammed into Florida's northwest coast on Friday, officials said.
Crews with backhoes and other heavy equipment scooped up splintered boards, broken glass, chunks of asphalt and other debris in hurricane-flattened Mexico Beach on Sunday as the mayor held out hope for the 250 or so residents who may have tried to ride out the storm. Trees even in Ghent were taken down by winds brought on by Michael's exit into the Atlantic Ocean. It is now known as Post-Tropical Cyclone Michael. Michael's outer bands still could drop up to 3 inches of rain from New Jersey to Long Island to Cape Cod, and up to 5 inches over the MA islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard through Friday afternoon, forecasters said.
Hours after the storm left her home in ruins, Gayle Sweet refused to leave. After Michael barreled into the Florida Panhandle, it made its way to southwest Georgia and SC - while also lashing North Carolina and Virginia. "If I can get out here I would". "I was picking three bale cotton (this week); today it is gone", cotton farmer and state Rep. Clay Pirkle said. "So I can't sell it now", retiree Bob Tenbrunson told AFP.
His mobile home wasn't on the beach but when it suddenly began floating during the hurricane, he jumped out and swam to a fishing boat and clambered aboard. An 11-year-old girl died in Georgia when a carport came crashing through the roof.
"Those hospitals, the ones that my kids were born in and the ones that I was born in are closed", he said.
Sarah had just started the sixth grade and joined the drama club and the band. Three other firefighters were seriously injured in the crash.
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High winds, downed trees, streets inundated by rising waters and multiple rescues of motorists from waterlogged cars played out around Virginia and neighbouring North Carolina.
Images out of the Florida panhandle show utter devastation after Michael tore through trees and homes.
Linda Clarke gasped repeatedly at the sight of her once new home in Shell Point Beach - now severely damaged.
Sitting in a red pickup just steps away from her damaged home, Gayle Sweet recalled the last moments she shared with her husband. "We're staying to protect our place".
At the city's St. Andrew Baptist Church, associate pastor Mark Bateman told AFP the church was gearing up to feed up to 500 people, with supplies - including pet food - provided by a statewide Baptist group. Despite the destruction, the Rev. Luke Farabaugh and his congregation celebrated Mass on Thursday. "We're starting from scratch, all of us", Plushnik said.
"Everyone has come together just helping everyone out".
Social media websites were crowded with messages from those trying to reach missing families in Florida's Bay and Gulf counties.
"IsraAID now has a team in North Carolina, assisting in the recovery and reconstruction of communities struck by Hurricane Florence, and we are preparing to send a team to the worst-affected area in the Florida panhandle as soon as possible".