Some of the worst damage was in Mexico Beach where the hurricane crashed ashore on Wednesday as a category four monster with 155mph winds and a storm surge of 9 feet.
“Why people didn’t evacuate is something we should be studying”, said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a former Florida state emergency management chief. They’re also concerned about flooding rains.
The governors of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and North and SC have declared emergencies for at least parts of their states, the New York Times said.
What are the latest developments?
Hurricane Michael formed on October 2, becoming more and more organised before being named as Tropical Storm Michael on October 7.
“We’re looking at a significant storm with significant impact, possibly greater than I’ve seen in my 59 years of life, ” Johnson said of his city on the shore of Apalachicola Bay, which where about 90 percent of Florida’s oysters are harvested.
Michael was a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale, just shy of a rare Category 5, when it came ashore.
“On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico through tonight”.
Among those helping are about 450 Florida Highway Patrol officers, many of whom drove through the night to the Panhandle to help with rescues. Michael broke that record by a whopping 30 miles per hour and became the first Category 4 hurricane on record to hit the Panhandle.
Governor Rick Scott said the Panhandle woke up to “unimaginable destruction”. But it moved fast and intensified quickly, and emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings.
Schools and state offices in the area are to remain shut this week.
“If you aren’t prepared, you are running out of time”, Scott warned residents early Tuesday morning.
On Thursday, Zee posted this photo of the aftermath in Mexico Beach, writing, “Finally have service and will try to tweet the photos I am able to as I know many of you are desperate to know what’s left”.
Megan McCall says her brother Jeff and his family were riding out the storm in the Panhandle.
“We are used to hurricanes in the Bahamas so we take them very seriously”.
Adrian Mahangos hopes he is one of the lucky ones.
The storm also has brought flash flooding to hurricane-weary parts of the Carolinas and Virginia.
Mr Mahangos is not going anywhere.
“If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you’re now calling for help, there’s no one that can respond to help you, ” Mr Morgan said at a news conference. Michael strengthened to a Category 4 in just a few hours. Population centres that could witness some of the most severe hurricane effects include Fort Walton Beach, Destin and Panama City Beach.
Michael killed at least two people – a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said.
As the storm barrels toward the coast, it threatens 3.8 million people who are all under hurricane warnings in Florida’s panhandle and Big Bend regions, according to CNN.
Michael is the first major hurricane to blow into Georgia since the 1898.
Six inches of rain has drenched the state from Michael with more to come, Cooper said, and water rescues are underway.
Michael also disrupted energy operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico as it approached land, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 percent and natural gas output by almost one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated.