Hurricane Michael aftermath: Pictures show devastation across Florida

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More than 1,700 search-and-rescue workers were deployed, Scott's office said, including seven swift-water rescue teams and almost 300 ambulances.

"I'm just glad he's not in pain anymore", Casteel said. He said he's spoken with Trump "almost every day".

More than 150,000 customers in the state remained without power as of Monday afternoon, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

"We still haven't got into the hardest-hit areas", he said, adding with frustration: "Very few people live to tell what it's like to experience storm surge, and unfortunately in this country, we seem to not learn the lesson".

Scott on Monday expanded a state of emergency to a total of 35 Florida counties, the news release said.

Standing next to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) in Lynn Haven, the president said, "We've called for maximum relief". With Scott at his side, Trump told him: "You're a great governor".

Mexico Beach is a tiny town that was almost swept away by the storm; the President's helicopter route took him over the debris-filled scene, which included thousands of uprooted trees, a toppled water tower and homes torn loose from their foundations.

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"I'm the idiot that rode it out here in this place", said Blackwell, 65, sweat dripping from his face. Hughes still had her home, but no way to leave it.

US President Donald Trump praised the federal response to Hurricane Michael during his visit to Florida and Georgia Monday to evaluate the damage caused by the storm, which rampaged through parts of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia last week, ruining coastal cities and killing 19 people.

"We are with you!" he tweeted.

With winds reaching 155 miles per hour, the monster storm slammed into the Florida Panhandle, leaving behind a trail of destruction FEMA's chief described as among the worst he's ever seen. It's unclear how many people stayed behind in nearby communities. "Our hearts are with the people of Florida and impacted residents, and MA will continue to look for ways to meet and support the needs of the communities and their residents". "There was a girl that had trapped horses, horses that were down, and horses that really needed vet care that could not get there. People lost their cows". "Someone from another county was using the mapping app to check property in rural Bay County and noticed the word "help" spelled out in the grass in logs".

The state is important to Trump not only for his hopes of being re-elected in 2020 but also as he campaigns aggressively to help Republicans expand their slim 51-49 majority in the U.S. Senate. The media followed as Trump flew over the devastated Mexico Beach community, and heavily-damaged Tyndall Air Force Base.

Emergency officials said they had completed an initial "hasty search" of the stricken area, looking for the living or the dead, and had begun more careful inspections of thousands of ruined buildings. That number had previously been 285, but officials think many left right before the storm hit.

Contributors in Florida include Associated Press writers Russ Bynum in Mexico Beach, Brendan Farrington in Panama City, Gary Fineout in Tallahassee and AP Photographer Gerald Herbert in Panama City.

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