Trees were downed in Panama City, northwest of Mexico Beach, buildings flattened, boats and electrical cables scattered.
There have been five confirmed storm-related deaths so far - four in Florida's Gadsden County and one in Georgia.
"We survived the wind and rain", said Terry Fuller, 57, who works at a rental auto business and stayed through the hurricane. Storm surge is worse now than it was 100 years ago, thanks to the rise in sea levels.
Michael has mangled nearly everything to some degree: Hi-rise condos in Panama City Beach saw parts of their roofs peeled off. Trees snapped and fell on structures in Panama City, home to about 37,000 residents.
Entire blocks of homes near the beach were washed away, leaving nothing but concrete slabs in the sand.
When Hurricane Michael barreled through Florida's Mexico Beach, it reduced the beachside town to pile of rubble, mangled structures and splintered houses.
Michael killed at least six people - including 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.
A psychiatric hospital in Florida is left isolated after uprooted trees blocked roads around Chattahoochee.
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.
The remains of a burned home stand after being destroyed by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, after Hurricane Michael went through the area on Wednesday.
Gregg Ebersole trekked to the Panama City Marina from his devastated neighborhood on Thursday morning to find a miraculous sight: Nestled amid the twisted metal on the damaged dock was his boat, just as he had left it on a rack. Long said. "Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life".More news: Khabib Nurmagomedov Threatens To Quit UFC Amid UFC 229 Brawl Fallout
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Mexico Beach is on the west end of what is sometimes called Florida's Forgotten Coast, so named because it is not heavily developed like numerous state's other shoreline areas, with their lavish homes and high-rise condos and hotels.
Numerous injured in Florida were taken to hard-hit Panama City, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Mexico Beach.
The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael came into focus Thursday with rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces, and search crews began making their way into the stricken areas in hopes of accounting for hundreds of people who may have defied evacuation orders.
"I have had employees going to the communities where our kids live, going door to door and checking", Principal Britt Smith by phone. Water seeped into her fourth-floor apartment.
Scott said the National Guard got into Mexico Beach and rescued 20 people who survived the direct hit.
As of 11 a.m. EDT, Michael was centred about 35 miles (60 kilometres) south of Charlotte, North Carolina, with winds of 50 mph (85 kph).
The hurricane pummeled communities across the Panhandle and turned streets into roof-high waterways.
The storm blew ashore early Wednesday afternoon near Florida's Mexico Beach as a Category 4 hurricane. Wind damage was also evident.
"Our biggest thing is the downed lines and the downed trees and now this water main issue", said Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson, referring to a burst water main complicating efforts to restore power.
Brad Rippey, a meteorologist for the U.S. Agriculture Department, said Michael severely damaged cotton, timber, pecans and peanuts, causing estimated liabilities as high as $1.9 billion and affecting up to 3.7 million crop acres (1.5 million hectares).
In terms of pressure, The Washington Post reported that Michael is the third-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States, even ranking above Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.