Widespread catastrophic damage in Florida

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The Florida Panhandle woke up to harrowing scenes of destruction Thursday in the wake of monster Hurricane Michael, the worst storm on record to ever hit the area and the fourth most powerful to strike US shores.

Under a perfectly clear blue sky, Florida families emerged tentatively from darkened shelters and hotels to an unfamiliar and perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centres, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

Gov. Rick Scott said the Panhandle woke up to "unimaginable destruction".

"So many lives have been changed forever".

In Paulding County, Georgia, a road was left sliced in two. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, was closed.

The wind speed - almost the highest possible for a Category 4 hurricane - with which Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach and Panama City.

Entire blocks of homes near the beach were obliterated, leaving concrete slabs in the sand.

More than 370,000 people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate and move to higher ground.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were urged to evacuate as Michael closed in.

"The damage to our infrastructure is the most widespread and severe we've ever experienced", city officials wrote in a tweet.

Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for the elderly mother of a friend. The worst damage - she thought - was in her yard. "The home was found smashed, with no sign of the woman".

"Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area", Nelson said on CNN. She said she was in the home when it was blown apart and is thankful to be alive. When the house filled with storm surge water, they fled upstairs.

Nearby Panama City Beach experienced similar damage along with other communities along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. "It was very bad, and now there's just nothing left". "And, then, once you seen that, then, everything just went black".

Boutwell said he doesn't even know where to begin his family's recovery effort. We're working with our partners to provide evacuees a safe place to stay.

Florida officials said more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Florida and Governor Scott said almost 20,000 utility workers had been deployed to restore power. Roofs were peeled away and sent airborne.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20 feet high. He imposed a curfew and asked for 50 members of the National Guard for protection. All phone communicaiton was cut off to the complex of almost 1,000 residents and more than 300 staff, leaving emergency radios as their only link out.

Local police say 6 people, including an 11-year-old girl, died in Florida and neighboring states from falling trees and other hurricane-related incidents. Four pine trees had crashed through the roof of her apartment, almost hitting two people.

A man was killed when a tree crashed through the roof of his house in Greensboro, Florida.

It has destroyed buildings, downed power lines, uprooted trees and caused extensive flooding. "Help is coming by air, land, and sea".

Michael is also now threatening the Carolinas.

At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental United States in over 50 years, and it wasn't done yet: Though reduced to a tropical storm, it brought flash flooding to North Carolina and Virginia, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence. The storm brought winds up to 155 miles per hour, and flooding of over 7 feet was recorded in some areas.

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