Since making landfall on Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, the now tropical storm has left thousands of people without power, uprooted trees, turned homes and marinas into ruins and killed at least 2 people.
The storm, which came ashore as a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, tore apart entire neighborhoods in the Panhandle.
Megan McCall says her brother Jeff and his family were riding out the storm in the Panhandle. "It destroyed everything", Jason Gunderson, a member of a group of rescue workers that calls itself the Cajun Navy, told CNN early on Thursday from Callaway, a suburb of Panama City. As many as 389,639 customers in Florida, 484,487 customers in North Carolina, 117,000 customers in Georgia, 24,000 customers in Alabama, 9,163 customers in SC and 61,067 customers in Virginia.
As of Thursday, the death toll was two but authorities feared it could rise in the coming days.
Residents emerged in the early evening to assess damage when rains stopped, though skies were still overcast and windy.
ATLANTA (AP) - By all accounts, Sarah Radney was safe inside her grandparents' home when Hurricane Michael roared into southwest Georgia.
An 11-year-old girl in southwestern Georgia also died when a tree fell on her home, officials said.
"This is what we expect with storm surge and high wind events", said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a former emergency management chief for the state of Florida.
Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her home in a complex of single-story wood frame buildings where they piled up mattresses around themselves for protection.
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After carving an agonizing path of destruction across the Florida Panhandle, Georgia and southeastern Alabama for almost 10 hours, Hurricane Michael finally slowed to a tropical storm at midnight and continued to weaken early Thursday. As of Thursday morning, the storm was centered about 40 miles west-northwest of Columbia, South Carolina, and is headed northeast.
Six Florida counties remain under curfews, as work crews try to push debris off of roads so utility and emergency crews can start to fix the damage and reach people who need help.
Hurricane-force winds extended up to 45 miles (72 kilometers) from Michael's center at the height of the storm. This carport was blown into a home killing an 11-year-old girl.
It moved so fast that people didn't' have much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.
Kent Greene, the county's director of emergency management and fire services, said in an email that the man died Thursday after his auto was struck by a tree on a highway east of Statesville. The lead-gray water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes.
In Roberta, in Crawford County, Hill Bentley said he saw spinning clouds that looked like a tornado Wednesday.
"We couldn't ever get her to spend the night nowhere because she always wanted to be home with her family", Roy Radney said.
Michael, the third most powerful storm ever to strike the USA mainland, weakened into a tropical storm over SC.
In Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged.