Hurricane Michael, the fiercest storm to hit Florida in 80 years and the third-most powerful ever to strike the US mainland, battered the state's Gulf coast with roof-shredding winds, raging surf and torrential rains before turning its diminishing fury on Georgia.
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).
Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, shocking even veteran storm-watchers with its destructive force. The Carolinas are still reeling from severe flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence less than a month ago.
The National Hurricane Centre warned of possible spinoff tornadoes and heavy rains in Alabama and Georgia, before the storm heads for SC, which were soaked by Hurricane Florence in September. Up to a foot (30 cm) of rain was forecast in Florida.
The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm.
As the storm made its way inland, it caused havoc in Georgia, spinning off possible tornadoes and taking down power lines and trees.
One person was killed by a falling tree, a Florida official said. Aluminum siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees.
Authorities said the full extent of devastation would not be known until after daybreak on Thursday.
Storm damage is seen after Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida on October 10, 2018.
Without power, the city was plunged into darkness at nightfall and its flooded streets were mostly silent and devoid of people or traffic.More news: Rare 'polio-like' disease reported in Minnesota and Colorado
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More than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power. "So many families have lost everything", he said. Wind damage was also evident. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around.
Seminole County Emergency Management Agency director Travis Brooks said strong winds picked up a portable carport Wednesday and dropped it down on the roof of the home where the girl was inside.
Storm-surge warnings are in place between Panama City Beach and Keaton Beach in Florida, and between Ocracoke Inlet and Duck in North Carolina, the US National Hurricane Center says.
More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in. But emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings.
Linda Marquardt, 67, rode out the storm with her husband at their home in Mexico Beach. Its rapid intensification caught many by surprise. "This happened so quickly", he said.
"Satellite images of Michael's evolution on Tuesday night were, in a word, jaw-dropping", wrote Bob Henson, a meteorologist with weather site Weather Underground.
Though the storm has now weakened, it is continuing on a unsafe path across the southeast states.
Michael is perhaps the third-most powerful storm ever to make landfall in the mainland United States, after Hurricane Camille in MS in 1969 and the Labour Day hurricane of 1935 in Florida.
"We just hope those structures can hold up", President Donald Trump responded.
Florida Governor Rick Scott warned of "unimaginable devastation", saying it would be the worst storm in 100 years.