Visuals of How Much Damage Hurricane Michael Inflicted on the Gulf Coast

'Monster' Hurricane Michael strengthens on its way to Florida

'Monster' Hurricane Michael strengthens on its way to Florida

In North Carolina's mountains, motorists had to be rescued from cars trapped by high water.

The storm was on track to make an expected exit into the Atlantic Ocean by Friday morning, with some parts of Virginia and North Carolina expected to see as much as nine inches of rain, bringing the likelihood for risky flooding. Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city, was expecting as much as six inches of rain and wind gusts exceeding 30 miles per hour.

For these hard-hit places, Michael - which came ashore as a Category 4 storm with 155 miles per hour winds that made it one of the strongest to make landfall in the Gulf in a century - will leave a long-lasting mark. "This is one of the most powerful storms".

Under a clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged from shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

Michael rapidly intensified as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico and caught many by surprise.

That is down from more than 963,000 customers affected by Michael, as utilities in Florida and Alabama restored service while the number of outages continue to grow in the Carolinas and Virginia as the storm moved northeast.

Heavy rains are forecast for the Carolinas, which were drenched by Hurricane Florence last month.

In its latest bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Michael had become "an extremely unsafe category 4 hurricane".

After pummeling Florida, Michael barreled through Georgia.

"First the cars started floating by, and all the debris was in the air", Mexico Beach resident Scott Boutwell said.

Local news station WKRG reported that about 280 of Mexico Beach's 1,000 residents did not evacuate, according to city administrator Tanya Castor.

Long urged communities such as Mexico Beach, where many homes were obliterated by 12 to 14 feet (3.7 to 4.3 meters) of storm surge, to rebuild to withstand future storms. Wind damage was also evident.

Damage in Panama City near where Michael came ashore on Wednesday afternoon was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay almost everywhere.

The Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people before and after the hurricane came ashore, mostly from homes along the Florida coastline, and searched for more victims.

Numerous beach's residents followed evacuation orders.

State officials said that by one count, 285 people in Mexico Beach defied mandatory evacuation orders and stayed behind.

And in Virginia, the storm produced a handful of tornadoes and deaths as it made its way through the state and off into the Atlantic.

Panama City could see a storm surge at depths from 6 to 9 feet. "This happened so quickly", he said.

Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said he expects to see the death toll rise.

It seems like every storm headed towards a USA coastline is considered extremely deadly, but Hurricane Michael is truly one for the books.

President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a major disaster declaration in the historic storm's wake.

Based on its extremely low central pressure - a key measurement of a hurricane's intensity - Michael was the third-strongest hurricane in U.S. history. The U.S. Coast Guard ran 10 rescue missions into the region Wednesday night.

Hurricane Michael's battering waves swamped streets and docks and shrieking winds splintered trees and rooftops.

The Captain of the Port for North Carolina set Port Condition Yankee for the Ports of Wilmington and Morehead City at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.

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