Hurricane is blamed for 16 deaths in Florida alone

Crystal Williams
Crystal Williams receives food from the Red Cross outside a damaged motel, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in Panama City, Fla., where many residents continue to live in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP/David Goldman)
Tasha Hughes
Tasha Hughes, left, splashes her daughter Madison, 4, center, and a friend’s son, Gaige Williams, 2, as they cool off in a storage container outside the damaged motel where they are living in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. Many residents rode out the storm and have no place to go even though many of the rooms are uninhabitable. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP/David Goldman)
Tasha Hughes
Gaige Williams, 2, cools off in a storage container outside the damaged motel where he lives with his family in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. Many residents rode out the storm and have no place to go even though many of the rooms are uninhabitable. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP/David Goldman)
Residents line up for food from the Red Cross outside a damaged motel, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in Panama City, Fla., where many residents continue to live in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Some residents rode out the storm and have no place to go even though many of the rooms at the motel are uninhabitable. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Residents line up for food from the Red Cross outside a damaged motel, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in Panama City, Fla., where many residents continue to live in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Some residents rode out the storm and have no place to go even though many of the rooms at the motel are uninhabitable. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP/David Goldman)
Residents come out out to a Red Cross food truck visiting the damaged motel where many continue to live despite the destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Residents come out out to a Red Cross food truck visiting the damaged motel where many continue to live despite the destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP/David Goldman)
Agnes Aggie Vicari
This undated photo provided by the Garone Family shows Agnes “Aggie” Vicari. Vicari has been reported as missing after attempting to stay in her Mexico Beach, Fla., home during Hurricane Michael. (Courtesy of the Garone Family) (AP)
Members from South Florida Task Force search a flattened home destroyed by category four Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach on Friday, October 12, 2018. The crew began searching the area after a neighbor reported an 80 to 85-year-old woman had been living there. The hurricane made landfall on Wednesday, October 10. (Bronte Wittpenn/The Tampa Bay Times via AP) TAMPA OUT; CITRUS COUNTY OUT; PORT CHARLOTTE OUT; BROOKSVILLE HERNANDO TODAY OUT FLPET130/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Members from South Florida Task Force search a flattened home destroyed by category four Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach on Friday, October 12, 2018. The crew began searching the area after a neighbor reported an 80 to 85-year-old woman had been living there. The hurricane made landfall on Wednesday, October 10. (Bronte Wittpenn/The Tampa Bay Times via AP) TAMPA OUT; CITRUS COUNTY OUT; PORT CHARLOTTE OUT; BROOKSVILLE HERNANDO TODAY OUT FLPET130/Tampa Bay Times via AP) (AP/Bronte Wittpenn)
Hurricane death
FILE- In this photo taken Oct. 12, 2018, a body being removed after being discovered during the search of a housing structure in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla. The Associated Press has put the death toll so far for the storm at 17, including one death in Mexico Beach and deaths in several states. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File) (AP/David Goldman)
Tampa Bay Times Emergency workers form a caravan at the western edge of town at Mexico Beach, population 1200, where they planned to join the South Florida Search and Rescue Task Force to clear home and to make contact with survivors in the township which lay devastated on Thursday, Oct 11, 2018, after Hurricane Michael made landfall on Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle. Brock said he stayed in the city to ride out the storm. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Tampa Bay Times Emergency workers form a caravan at the western edge of town at Mexico Beach, population 1200, where they planned to join the South Florida Search and Rescue Task Force to clear home and to make contact with survivors in the township which lay devastated on Thursday, Oct 11, 2018, after Hurricane Michael made landfall on Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle. Brock said he stayed in the city to ride out the storm. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP) (AP/Douglas R. Clifford)
Mishelle McPherson
FILE- In this Oct. 11, 2018 file photo, Mishelle McPherson looks for her friend Agnes Vicari in the rubble of her home in Mexico Beach, Fla. Vicari stayed in her home during Hurricane Michael and has not been found. The storm that ravaged the Panhandle left incredible destruction, but so far getting a firm grasp on how many died is proving somewhat elusive. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (AP/Gerald Herbert)
President Donald J Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out water at a relief station in Lynn Haven, Florida during a visit on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018 to see the storm damage and recovery efforts following Hurricane Michael. (Michael Snyder/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)
President Donald J Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out water at a relief station in Lynn Haven, Florida during a visit on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018 to see the storm damage and recovery efforts following Hurricane Michael. (Michael Snyder/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP) (AP/Michael Snyder)
Leslie Sargent
Leslie Sargent, center, waits with her dog, Bubu, in line for food at an aid distribution point in Callaway, Fla., Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, in the wake of Hurricane Michael. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP/David Goldman)
Thomas Weldon, Anthony Weldon
Thomas Weldon, 10, right, rests for a moment while helping his brother Anthony, 11, push a cart with their belongings as the family relocates from their uninhabitable damaged home to stay at their landlord’s place in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Springfield, Fla., Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP/David Goldman)
President Donald Trump raises his fist to chants of "USA" during a visit Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, to Lynn Haven, Fla., to see storm damage and recovery efforts following Hurricane Michael. Trump marveled at the roofless homes and uprooted trees he saw Monday while touring Florida Panhandle communities ravaged by the force of the hurricane. (Michael Snyder/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)
President Donald Trump raises his fist to chants of “USA” during a visit Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, to Lynn Haven, Fla., to see storm damage and recovery efforts following Hurricane Michael. Trump marveled at the roofless homes and uprooted trees he saw Monday while touring Florida Panhandle communities ravaged by the force of the hurricane. (Michael Snyder/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP) (AP/Michael Snyder)
Damage from Hurricane Michael is evident on the buildings at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Carlos Munoz/Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP)
Damage from Hurricane Michael is evident on the buildings at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Carlos Munoz/Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP) (AP/Carlos Munoz)
In this Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, photo, Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Heather Wilson and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein walk to a briefing at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida to speak to reporters about the status of the base, which suffered significant damage from Hurricane Michael. (Carlos R. Munoz/Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP)
In this Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, photo, Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Heather Wilson and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein walk to a briefing at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida to speak to reporters about the status of the base, which suffered significant damage from Hurricane Michael. (Carlos R. Munoz/Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP) (AP/Carlos Munoz)
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Crystal Williams
Tasha Hughes
Tasha Hughes
Residents line up for food from the Red Cross outside a damaged motel, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in Panama City, Fla., where many residents continue to live in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Some residents rode out the storm and have no place to go even though many of the rooms at the motel are uninhabitable. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Residents come out out to a Red Cross food truck visiting the damaged motel where many continue to live despite the destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Agnes Aggie Vicari
Members from South Florida Task Force search a flattened home destroyed by category four Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach on Friday, October 12, 2018. The crew began searching the area after a neighbor reported an 80 to 85-year-old woman had been living there. The hurricane made landfall on Wednesday, October 10. (Bronte Wittpenn/The Tampa Bay Times via AP) TAMPA OUT; CITRUS COUNTY OUT; PORT CHARLOTTE OUT; BROOKSVILLE HERNANDO TODAY OUT FLPET130/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Hurricane death
Tampa Bay Times Emergency workers form a caravan at the western edge of town at Mexico Beach, population 1200, where they planned to join the South Florida Search and Rescue Task Force to clear home and to make contact with survivors in the township which lay devastated on Thursday, Oct 11, 2018, after Hurricane Michael made landfall on Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle. Brock said he stayed in the city to ride out the storm. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Mishelle McPherson
President Donald J Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out water at a relief station in Lynn Haven, Florida during a visit on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018 to see the storm damage and recovery efforts following Hurricane Michael. (Michael Snyder/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)
Leslie Sargent
Thomas Weldon, Anthony Weldon
President Donald Trump raises his fist to chants of "USA" during a visit Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, to Lynn Haven, Fla., to see storm damage and recovery efforts following Hurricane Michael. Trump marveled at the roofless homes and uprooted trees he saw Monday while touring Florida Panhandle communities ravaged by the force of the hurricane. (Michael Snyder/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)
Damage from Hurricane Michael is evident on the buildings at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Carlos Munoz/Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP)
In this Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, photo, Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Heather Wilson and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein walk to a briefing at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida to speak to reporters about the status of the base, which suffered significant damage from Hurricane Michael. (Carlos R. Munoz/Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP)

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Michael killed at least 16 people in Florida, most of them in the coastal county that took a direct hit from the storm, state emergency authorities said Tuesday. That’s in addition to at least 10 deaths elsewhere across the South.

The scope of the storm’s fury became clearer after nearly a week of missing-persons reports and desperate searches of the Florida Panhandle neighborhoods devastated by the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years.

The count of 16 dead was twice the number previously tallied by The Associated Press.

Emergency authorities said 12 of the deaths were in Bay County, where the storm slammed ashore with 155 mph (250 kph) winds and towering storm surge last Wednesday.

Bay County includes Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town of 1,000 people that was nearly obliterated, as well as Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City and Lynn Haven, all of which were heavily damaged.

Florida emergency authorities gave no details on how the victims died.

The AP’s tally also includes 10 deaths in Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.

Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey said two deaths were confirmed in his town, a man and a woman who did not evacuate and whose homes were destroyed.

Only one person remained missing in Mexico Beach, Cathey said, adding that authorities were almost certain that that person evacuated before Michael and simply hasn’t been contacted.

“We’re holding steady at two and don’t expect that number to rise,” the mayor said.

Nearly 137,000 Florida customers remain without power in an 11-county region that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Georgia border, according to information compiled by state emergency management officials.

Meanwhile, a glimmer of hope emerged when cellphone service began to return to the stricken zone.

Cathey had a one-word exclamation when his Verizon phone started working for the first time in nearly a week: “Hallelujah!”

Verizon service also resumed in Panama City, where residents haven’t been able to contact loved ones or call for help. The telecommunications giant later announced it would give a three-month credit to every Verizon customer in Bay and Gulf counties.

Gov. Rick Scott had been criticizing phone companies over what he called a slow restoration of service.

Sitting outside in the sweltering heat in the Panama City area as she fanned herself with a flyswatter, Christy Tanksley said the sudden improvement in cell service was a huge relief.

“A lot of people didn’t even know we had evacuated and come back,” said Tanksley, whose phone runs off the Verizon network.

“I turned my phone on this morning and it started going crazy,” she said. “There were all kinds of messages, Facebook notifications, emails and emergency alerts.”

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Associated Press writers Curt Anderson in Miami and Gary Fineout in Tallahassee contributed to this story.

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

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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