Before-and-After Footage Shows Mexico Beach After Hurricane Michael

Image from International Space Station of Hurricane Michael | NASA via Reuters

The third-most powerful hurricane to hit the USA mainland in recorded history left a wide path of destruction across Florida and Georgia, destroying homes and shopping centers and felling trees that killed at least two people.

After Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday, lashing the Florida Panhandle and Georgia, communities have been left to deal with life-threatening conditions and "unprecedented impacts".

Michael has weakened into a tropical storm as it flies over the Carolinas toward the Atlantic Ocean, but it continues to dump rain on areas still reeling from Hurricane Florences flooding. Michael was a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale when it came ashore as the fiercest hurricane to hit Florida in 80 years. Search and rescue teams have moved into Panam City, Mexico Beach, Tyndall, Alligator Point and Carrabelle. Michael as of 5 a.m. was a strong Category 1 hurricane with a minimum pressure of 973 millibars, a measure of atmospheric pressure indicating that air is rising in the storm, pulling in winds toward its center.

Michael has left about 648,000 households and businesses without power across Florida, Georgia, Alabama and SC. We are working as quickly as possible to make that happen.

"Now our job is to search for everybody, rescue everybody, get everybody the resources they need and we'll recover", said Florida Gov. Rick Scott. He added: "So many lives have been changed forever".

A ferocious and historic Hurricane Michael is heading toward the Carolinas after tearing through Florida and Georgia, demolishing homes, submerging entire neighborhoods and killing at least two people, including an 11-year-old girl.

Among those brought to safety were nine people rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of their Panama City home after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said. On Thursday morning, patients were being evacuated from the city's Bay Medical Sacred Heart hospital and Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center.

The state mental hospital in Chattahoochee, which has a section for the criminally insane, was cut off by land, and food and supplies were being flown in, authorities said.

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After being battered for almost three hours by strong winds and heavy rains, roads in Panama City were virtually impassable and trees, satellite dishes and traffic lights lay in the streets.

Michael is now moving northwards at 12mph.

Forecasters said it could drop up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain over the Carolinas and Virginia before pushing out to sea Thursday night. Beaches disappeared, military bases were damaged, cars and trucks were flipped and smashed.

Further inland half the buildings were reduced to piles of wood, and those still standing had been left heavily damaged. Aluminum siding was shredded to ribbons. Roofs were peeled off and homes split open by fallen trees.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20 feet high.

Based on its extremely low central pressure - a key measurement of a hurricane's intensity - Michael was the third-strongest hurricane in USA history.

Scott said one benefit of the rapidly moving Michael was that it hit during the day and was out of the state before sunset. A neighbor told McCall that all the docks in the area were destroyed and many people are stuck in their homes as the roads have been blocked with debris.

Storm surges of between nine and thirteen feet are now projected for the gulf coast between Mexico Beach, Florida (just south of Panama City on the Panhandle) and Keaton Beach on Florida's Big Bend. It also was an October icon - the strongest continental United States hurricane to make an October landfall based on maximum sustained winds at 155 miles per hour.

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