His 17-year-old son, also in the vehicle, was rescued by Charlotte County sheriff's deputies.
Hurricane Michael was one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the U.S. It was not immediately clear what the storm's financial toll will be but some initial estimates said it could be between $12 billion and $15 billion.
Emergency personnel scoured areas where entire blocks of homes and buildings were flattened, searching for survivors. "You don't want to put a rush on a thorough rescue".
Miami fire chief Joseph Zahralban, leader of a search-and-rescue unit in the 1,000-strong community, said: "We have one confirmed deceased and are working to determine if there are others". Almost 2,000 law enforcement officials have been sent into the Panhandle.
Governor Scott tweeted Saturday that cellphone provider AT&T was providing resources in impacted areas, "including sending numerous phones and other mobile resources that will enhance communication for first responders". "IsraAID's emergency response team will work to return affected people to their homes", the organization said in a statement on its website.
"Hope is that even if the storm does come, even if I lose my auto, my house, my family, even if I lose my life, blessed be God", he said. "You know, people don't sit and have a whole bunch of extra money in the bank just waiting for a disaster". But he said maintenance issues delayed leaving port and by the time crews had cobbled together the necessary fixes the hurricane was too close for us to run away from it.. "For me the cotton crop is as bad as it gets". Numerous 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated ahead of the storm.
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. "If we're going to rebuild, do it right". "But I have reasons to believe - we haven't gotten into some of the hardest hit areas, particularly the Mexico Beach area".
Residents, meanwhile, began to come to grips with the destruction and face up to the uncertainty that lies ahead.
Shell-shocked survivors who barely escaped with their lives told of terrifying winds, surging floodwaters and homes cracking like eggs.
Hector Morales, a 57-year-old cook, never thought of evacuating. "I'm not going anywhere until they bring him out", she said. "The officers, I finally made accountability of them all today, two days after the fact".
The number of dead was expected to rise, but authorities scrapped plans to set up a temporary morgue, indicating they had yet to see signs of mass casualties from the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in almost 50 years.
Relatives of people who defied evacuation orders in Mexico Beach, a town where the storm obliterated shorefront neighborhoods, also posted messages on the Facebook pages of law enforcement pleading for help finding relatives.
In one community, Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged.
First responders and residents walk along a main street following Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., on October 11, 2018.
"I told him, 'Hold on, just hold on, I'm calling for help now, '" she told CNN affiliate WFTS on Thursday, sobbing.
Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned that the death toll could yet rise.