Searches intensify after body is found in Michael's wake

Searches intensify after body is found in Michael's wake
Letty Cervantes prays during Mass which was moved outdoors due to damage to Saint Dominic Catholic Church from Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman)

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Rescuers intensified efforts Saturday to find survivors who might be trapped amid the ruins of a small Florida Panhandle community nearly obliterated by Hurricane Michael, where one body has already been recovered, tempers are flaring, and power could be out for weeks.

Crews with dogs went door-to-door in Mexico Beach, pushing aside debris to get inside badly damaged structures in a second wave of searches following what they described as an initial, "hasty" search of the area. About 1,700 search and rescue personnel have checked 25,000 homes, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.

Authorities say there is little doubt the death toll will rise from the storm, which made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds (249 kph) and heavy storm surge. The tally of lives lost across the South stood at 15, including the victim found in the rubble of Mexico Beach, where about 1,000 people live.

"Everything is time consuming," said Capt. Ignatius Carroll, of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue task force. "You don't want to put a rush on a thorough rescue."

More roads were passable along the storm-ravaged coast as crews cleared downed trees and power lines, but traffic lights remained out and long lines heightened tensions at one of the area's few open gas stations.

Clinton Moseley walks past debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Clinton Moseley walks past debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (AP)

"I want you to get back in your vehicle and stop!" one woman shouted at a man accosting her as she tried to squeeze her car between two idling vehicles at a Panama City service station running two fuel pumps on a generator.

Mary Frances Parrish reacts outside her heavily damaged home, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. She didn't leave the storm because her car was broken down, she didn't have a place to go and if she did she didn't have the money for it. She is caring for her terminally ill son who lives with her. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Mary Frances Parrish reacts outside her heavily damaged home, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. She didn't leave the storm because her car was broken down, she didn't have a place to go and if she did she didn't have the money for it. She is caring for her terminally ill son who lives with her. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (AP)

"You're an idiot!" the man shouted back.

An American flag hangs from a broken palm tree along the water where homes were swept away by hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
An American flag hangs from a broken palm tree along the water where homes were swept away by hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

About 4,000 members of Florida's national guard have been called up to deal with the storm, including 500 added on Saturday. Nearly 2,000 law-enforcement officials have been sent into the Panhandle.

Mike Jackson sifts through debris looking for remnants of his home which was destroyed by hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Mike Jackson sifts through debris looking for remnants of his home which was destroyed by hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

Schools will stay closed indefinitely, a hospital halted operations and sent 200 patients to hospitals elsewhere in Florida and in Alabama, and more than 253,000 customers in the Panhandle remain without power.

Jeff Pearsye checks on his shed that was destroyed by paling trees in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Jeff Pearsye checks on his shed that was destroyed by paling trees in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (AP)

"Everybody just needs to help each other right now," Scott said after meeting with emergency responders in the Panama City area.

Joshua Kerigan, 19, left, crawls out of a window after retrieving some belongings with his father Jack Kerigan from their damaged house in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Joshua Kerigan, 19, left, crawls out of a window after retrieving some belongings with his father Jack Kerigan from their damaged house in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

"You feel sorry for people," Scott said. "They might have lost their house. They worry about their kids getting into school. You know, people don't sit and have a whole bunch of extra money in the bank just waiting for a disaster."

Mary Frances Parrish shows her toppled pecan tree, which fell in a neighbor's house, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Parrish didn't leave the storm because her car was broken down, she didn't have a place to go and if she did she didn't have the money for it. She is caring for her terminally ill son who lives with her. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Mary Frances Parrish shows her toppled pecan tree, which fell in a neighbor's house, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Parrish didn't leave the storm because her car was broken down, she didn't have a place to go and if she did she didn't have the money for it. She is caring for her terminally ill son who lives with her. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (AP)

Some residents were packing up and getting as far away as they could.

Members of a South Florida urban search and rescue team try to gain entry to a home while looking for survivors of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Members of a South Florida urban search and rescue team try to gain entry to a home while looking for survivors of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

Jeff and Katrina Pearsey, with a ruined rental home in the Panama City area and no indication of when they could again earn a living, said they were heading to Bangor, Maine, where Katrina once worked as a nurse. Several trees came down on their property, including one that smashed through the roof.

Peggy Cauley cleans up debris from her family's home in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Peggy Cauley cleans up debris from her family's home in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

"We're getting our stuff and we're going," said Jeff Pearsey, 48. "We're probably done with Panama City."

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, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

Michael was one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the U.S. While most residents fled ahead of the storm's arrival, others stayed to face the hurricane. Some barely escaped with their lives as homes were pushed off their foundations and whole neighborhoods became submerged.

Damaged homes are seen along the water's edge in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Damaged homes are seen along the water's edge in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

Hector Morales, a 57-year-old restaurant cook, never even thought of evacuating. 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.

Tiffany Harris moves out of her hotel room, after the hotel was heavily damaged during Hurricane Michael in Panama Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Tiffany Harris moves out of her hotel room, after the hotel was heavily damaged during Hurricane Michael in Panama Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (AP)

"I lost everything," Morales said. "But I made it."

Father Michael Nixon holds Mass outside Saint Dominic Catholic Church which stands damaged in the background form hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Father Michael Nixon holds Mass outside Saint Dominic Catholic Church which stands damaged in the background form hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

How many others were not so fortunate was still not clear. By one count, state officials said, 285 people in Mexico Beach defied mandatory evacuation orders and stayed behind. It's unclear how many people stayed behind in nearby communities.

Letty Cervantes prays during Mass which was moved outdoors due to damage from hurricane Michael inside Saint Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Letty Cervantes prays during Mass which was moved outdoors due to damage from hurricane Michael inside Saint Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

One who did, Albert Blackwell, was preparing on Saturday to cover holes in the roof of his apartment and take a chain saw to trees that fell and broke his windows just outside Panama City.

Lora McCalister-Cruel prays during Mass which was moved outdoors due to damage from Hurricane Michael inside Saint Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Lora McCalister-Cruel prays during Mass which was moved outdoors due to damage from Hurricane Michael inside Saint Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

"I'm the idiot that rode it out here in this place," said Blackwell, 65, sweat dripping from his face. He doesn't plan to leave; he wants to protect his home from looters.

Courtney Hensley, left, cries while attending Mass with her mother, Darlene Hensley, right, and sister, Dania Hensley, at Saint Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. "That's the scariest thing I've ever seen," said Darlene who rode out the storm with her daughters at home. "The gates of hell opened up on us. You got to come and thank God you're alive." (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Courtney Hensley, left, cries while attending Mass with her mother, Darlene Hensley, right, and sister, Dania Hensley, at Saint Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. "That's the scariest thing I've ever seen," said Darlene who rode out the storm with her daughters at home. "The gates of hell opened up on us. You got to come and thank God you're alive." (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

Emergency officials said they've received thousands of calls asking about missing people, but with cellphone service out across a wide area, they found it impossible to know who among those unaccounted for were safe but just unable to dial out to friends or family.

Crews work to restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Crews work to restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said he expected the death toll to rise. Searchers were trying to determine if the person found dead in Mexico Beach had been alone or was part of a family.

Crews work to restore power in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Crews work to restore power in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

Authorities have set up distribution centers to dole out food and water to victims. They've also set up a triage tent to treat residents stepping on nails and cutting themselves on debris.

Residents look down their street which is blocked off by debris from Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Residents look down their street which is blocked off by debris from Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

President Donald Trump announced plans to visit Florida and hard-hit Georgia early next week but didn't say what day he would arrive. On Saturday he approved federal disaster aid relief for four Alabama counties affected by the storm.

A resident cleans up around a condominium complex whose roof was torn off from Hurricane Michael in Parker, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A resident cleans up around a condominium complex whose roof was torn off from Hurricane Michael in Parker, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

"We are with you!" he tweeted.

Michael Cain, right, and Jackie Slusser calm tempers between motorists as they wait in line for gas during a shortage in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Southport, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Michael Cain, right, and Jackie Slusser calm tempers between motorists as they wait in line for gas during a shortage in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Southport, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

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Jackie Slusser calms tempers between motorists as they wait in line for gas during a shortage in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Southport, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Jackie Slusser calms tempers between motorists as they wait in line for gas during a shortage in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Southport, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

Contributors in Florida include Associated Press writers Russ Bynum in Mexico Beach, Brendan Farrington in Panama City, Gary Fineout in Tallahassee

Crystal Drbal, right, and Al Whidden fill their gas canisters as motorists wait in line during a shortage in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Southport, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Crystal Drbal, right, and Al Whidden fill their gas canisters as motorists wait in line during a shortage in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Southport, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

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For the latest on Hurricane Michael, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes