Hurricane Michael's assault on the Florida Panhandle left nothing more than empty foundations and heaps of rubble in some parts of the small towns it crashed into with near-record force.
At least two people were killed as Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S., slammed into the state of Florida, unleashing a trail of destruction by flooding beach towns, peeling off roofs and snapping trees before advancing to the Carolinas. It was a clear warning that the storm should be taken seriously.
Florida Governor Rick Scott promised a strong relief effort from his administration Thursday after the state was slammed by Hurricane Michael, the most powerful storm to hit the USA mainland in 50 years.
Gov. Rick Scott announced afterward that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode.
"For North Carolina, Michael isn't as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert", Governor Roy Cooper said. The National Hurricane Centre warned of possible spinoff tornadoes and heavy rains in Alabama and Georgia, before the storm heads for SC, already soaked by Hurricane Florence in September.
The hurricane unexpectedly increased in strength before it slammed into the Gulf Coast of Florida with its 155 miles per hour winds.
Authorities said at least one person has died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home.
Michael severely damaged cotton, timber, pecan and peanut crops, causing estimated liabilities as high as $1.9 billion and affecting up to 3.7 million crop acres (1.5 million hectares), said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist for the U.S. Agriculture Department.
The storm is not expected to move offshore until Friday, having swept over much of Georgia as a hurricane and then North and SC as a tropical storm.
Uprooted trees, downed power poles and limited communications have greatly hindered first responders and families trying to reach residents in need.
Early Thursday, he said that Michael was "definitely one of the most violent [hurricanes] I've been in".
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"When they started a couple of days ago and said it was going to be a Category 1, it was, like, 'Cat 1, no big deal, ' " Laurie Hamm said at the Panama City hotel where she had taken refuge.
A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20 feet (7 meters) high. Television news footage earlier in the day showed floodwaters up to the roofs of many homes in Mexico Beach.
Harvey and Michael didn't strengthen quite so much, so fast, but they rapidly intensified in the crucial hours before making their final continental USA landfalls.
More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to evacuate as Michael closed in, but it moved so fast that people did not have much time to prepare. "Many counties are under a Tropical Storm Warning or Tropical Storm Watch". "She was 11 years old, but she liked to have fun like a 5-year-old".
Death toll rises: At least 2 people were killed in storm-related incidents since Wednesday.
The kittens eventually made their way to the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS shelter, in Fort Walton, where they are now adoptable, Marciano said in a tweet.
It also brought the dangers of a life-threatening storm surge.
Meanwhile, the Waffle House near Florida State University's campus in Tallahassee was open for business at 12:28 a.m., with lines stretching out the door.
"There's a large outage of internet service in the hardest hit areas", Kilcollins said.
And, impressively, Michael's top sustained winds are growing again, to near 65 miles per hour (100 kph) at 5 a.m., with forecasters saying it will grow stronger still.