Search teams continued to pick their way through the ruins of Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town of about 1,000 people that was almost wiped off the map when Michael blew ashore there on Wednesday with devastating 155 miles per hour winds.
On Friday, Florida officials confirmed the storm claimed the lives of three more people in Jackson county. About 280 of the town's 1,200 residents said they planned to ride out the storm but authorities say many fled at the last minute when Michael gained more force, Mayor Al Cathey said. According to the latest report by CNN, the death toll now stands at 17.
Five people were killed in Florida and a man died in a storm-related traffic accident in North Carolina on Thursday.
Several Florida Panhandle communities were completely destroyed as a result of Hurricane Michael's wrath, which claimed the lives of at least 11 people.
About 4,000 members of Florida's national guard have been called up to deal with the storm, including 500 added on Saturday.
Social media websites were crowded with messages from those trying to reach missing families in Florida's Bay and Gulf Counties.
Marchetti said his volunteer search teams, consisting mostly of off-duty police officers and firefighters, also had rescued or accounted for 345 others previously reported to CrowdSource Rescue since Michael struck on Wednesday.
U.S. Army personnel used heavy equipment to push a path through debris in Mexico Beach to allow rescuers through to search for trapped residents, survivors or casualties, as Blackhawk helicopters circled overhead.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has called up 4,000 members of the state's national guard to deal with the deadly storm, adding 500 more on Saturday, and almost 2,000 law-enforcement officials have been sent into the Panhandle.
Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the United States mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. It pushed a wall of seawater inland, causing widespread flooding.
Overall, well over a dozen deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Michael, which slammed Florida's panhandle as a catastrophic Category 4 storm earlier this week.
Except for the emergency 911 system, authorities in Bay County, the epicenter of the disaster, were virtually without telephone or internet service until late on Friday, making communications internally and with the public hard.
This aerial photo shows debris and destruction in Mexico Beach, Fla., after Hurricane Michael went through the area on Wednesday. "We've been writing things down on pieces of paper".
"It's nothing compared to what other people experienced and so we are not complaining here. It's washed away", she said. Search teams went door-to-door hunting victims. The area is home to a number of rural communities that are among the poorest in the state. "Everything's gone. I didn't even know our road was our road", said 25-year-old Tiffany Marie Plushnik, an evacuee who returned to find her home in Sandy Creek too damaged to live in. I thought, Its going to go right over the top of them.. 18 people have died across the southeastern us because of Michael.
Experts predict that more will be pronounced dead before the rescue effort is over. He said they are ignoring intact structures and painstakingly going door to door at collapsed buildings, first making noise to alert anyone who could be inside that they are not looters, and then sending in a cadaver dog to search for any bodies.