Florida Governor Rick Scott warned it was a "monstrous hurricane", and his Democratic opponent for the Senate, Bill Nelson, said a "wall of water" could cause destruction along the Florida Panhandle, the north-western part of the state.
A fast and furious Hurricane Michael sped towards Florida on Tuesday night with 120mph winds and a potential storm surge of 13 feet, giving tens of thousands of people little time to get out or board up. Airbnb is pairing aid workers with hosts who are opening their homes free of charge, connecting people who still have homes to offer with those who want to help everyone who have lost their homes-a small but very bright ray of sunlight through the storm.
Under a perfectly clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged tentatively yesterday from darkened shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centres, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10 - the main east-west route along the Panhandle - was closed.
The storm made landfall on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. The intense Category 4 hurricane was packing maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour when it crashed ashore near Mexico Beach, a lightly populated tourist town about midway along the Panhandle.
"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient", said Scott. Entire roofs were torn away and dropped onto a road.
Her home was reduced to crumbled blocks and pieces of floor tile. "That's her floor tile".
About 2,500 National Guard troops were deployed to assist with evacuations and storm preparations, and more than 4,000 others were on standby.
Describing his experience with the storm, Mr Johnson said: "I went to bed and I was (awoken) by the announcement over our PA system at about 8.30am saying the storm had shifted and we were no longer on lockdown". "Panama City, I don't know if there will be much left".
Uprooted trees, downed power poles and limited communications have greatly hindered first responders and families trying to reach residents in need. Roofs had been peeled off and carried away.
The National Weather Service is now warning that Michael is a "potentially catastrophic" weather event, which could result in "the strongest hurricane to landfall" upon Florida's Panhandle in over a decade. Aluminium siding was shredded to ribbons. Homes were split open by fallen trees. Twisted street signs lay on the ground, while pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20ft high.
Waves crash on stilt houses along the shore due to Hurricane Michael at Alligator Point in Franklin County, Florida, U.S., October 10, 2018.
Although levels are receding in some areas along the Gulf Coast, storm surge will combine with the tide and result in flooding.
The hurricane also damaged hospitals and nursing homes in the Panama City area, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients.
In Seminole County, Georgia, a metal carport hoisted by the wind crashed through a roof, hitting a girl's head, the county's emergency management director Travis Brooks said.
Currently, Michael is approximately 395 miles south of Panama City, Florida and around 365 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida. They're also concerned about flooding rains.
"For North Carolina, Michael isn't as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert", Gov. Roy Cooper said.
While we might not get more storms in a warmer climate, most studies show storms will get stronger and produce more rain.
Wide swaths of the region could be powerless for weeks, including the Florida Panhandle and parts of Alabama and Georgia, said Brock Long, administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Parts of western Cuba, which was hit by the storm on Monday, were forecast to receive up to a foot of rain.