Hurricane Michael: 'Unimaginable destruction after monster storm'

Greg Milam in Florida. Pic Sky News and WeatherNation

Greg Milam in Florida. Pic Sky News and WeatherNation

Briefing President Donald Trump at the White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Brock Long said Michael was the most intense hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since record keeping began in 1851.

Video from a drone revealed some of the worst damage in Mexico Beach, where the hurricane crashed ashore Wednesday as a Category 4 monster with 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds and a storm surge of 9 feet (2.7 meters). The official forecast took the storm up to mid-Category 3 at landfall.

At least two deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental USA in over 50 years, and it wasn't done yet: Though weakened into a tropical storm, it continued to bring heavy rain and blustery winds to the Southeast as it pushed inland, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

The rescue teams did what was described as a "hasty search" to look for either victims or survivors.

It was a category two hurricane by Tuesday, and a borderline category five on Wednesday morning, packing 155mph winds. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and he said the roar of the storm sounded like a jet engine as the winds accelerated. A hurricane warning has been discontinued for the Gulf coast of Florida.

A man died after a tree fell on a home near Greensboro town in Florida on Wednesday evening, CNN reported.

Hurricane centre director Ken Graham said on Facebook that Michael would be the worst storm in recorded history to hit the Panhandle. At around midnight Thursday the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm after ripping through Florida and Southwest Georgia.

A day after the storm hit, Mexico Beach remained very hard to reach, with roads covered by fallen trees, power lines and other storm debris. The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left wide destruction and at least one person dead and wasn't almost finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia toward the Carolinas, still reeling from epic flooding in Hurricane Florence.

Megan McCall says her brother Jeff and his family were riding out the storm in the Panhandle. Police officers spent the night patrolling the area to prevent looting and responding to calls for assistance, making do with damaged patrol cars eased across downed power lines and even small buildings flipped into the middle of streets.

In Wakulla County, the sheriff's office made a list of people who chose to ride out the storm and will check on them Thursday, sheriff's captain Chris Savary said. Roofs were peeled off and homes split open by fallen trees.

Phone service to the most damaged areas was down, leaving survivors no way to contact anxious relatives.

This time, the Panama City school was ripped apart by Michael. "We know many people have been injured".

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for... "She was 11 years old, but she liked to have fun like a 5-year-old". "She's my baby", a distraught O'Brien said, her face wet with tears.

As the storm charged north, it spun off possible tornadoes and downed power lines and trees in Georgia. Storm surge is worse now than it was 100 years ago, thanks to the rise in sea levels.

Willis said the Atlanta-area tornado was an EF0, the lowest intensity rating for a tornado, with sustained winds of 65 to 85 miles per hour (105 to 137 kph).

Forecaster Amy Hodgson, of The Weather Channel, said: "Latest model guidance indicates an eastward movement across the North Atlantic, and it will merge with a larger area of low pressure".

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.

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