Extensive devastation after Hurricane Michael blasts Florida Panhandle

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At least 388,000 utility customers lost power as Hurricane Michael crashed ashore -- with potentially catastrophic winds of 155 miles per hour -- between Panama City and St. Vincent Island, before speeding north into Alabama and Georgia on Wednesday. "The roads are blocked", Sgt. Angelie Hightower told TIME.

Damage in Panama City, just west of where Michael came ashore Wednesday afternoon, was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay almost everywhere. Officials hadn't immediately confirmed the man's name.

By 5 a.m., Michael's eye was about 70 kilometres west of Augusta, Georgia, packing top winds of 80 kph and moving at 33 kph into SC, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. 4 storm to hit the Florida Panhandle (in records dating back to 1851.) The storm started off as a tropical depression the weekend before, and had reached Category 2 strength just a day before it hit landfall. By 8pm, it was down to a category 1.

A man watches the sun set during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida. Some areas could see as much as 12 inches of rain.

Footage shows other homes and cars submerged in flood waters as the hurricane battered the Sunshine State.

"Not yet - knock on wood", she said. "It's like a nightmare". "You just don't know when the next one is going down". How can this happen? "We thought the windows were going to break at any time", Beu said. "That's the only thing I can imagine".

A store lost its awning after winds ripped it from its foundation in Panama City, Florida.

Numerous buildings in Panama City were demolished or left without roofs amid deserted streets littered with debris, twisted, fallen tree trunks and dangling wires.

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Are you affected by Hurricane Michael?

Almost 30 million people are in danger of being impacted by Michael, according to estimates.

"The time to evacuate the coastal areas has come and gone".

Last Thursday, forecasters were saying that what was then called Tropical Storm Michael "does not pose a threat to land". So far that request has not been made, as Florida has 2,300 of its own Guard forces activated, and due to its long history with hurricanes, has aircraft and ground supplies set to respond.

"We basically just walked away from everything and said goodbye to it", he said, tears welling up. But after the storm passed, she emerged to check on the café she manages and discovered a scene of breathtaking destruction.

Michael was expected to bring a foot of rain and a "killer" storm surge of up to 14ft.

Even before landfall, the hurricane disrupted energy operations in the Gulf, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 percent and natural gas output by almost one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated before the storm hit. Coupled with that you have over 145 miles per hour winds. "God bless everyone because it's going to be a rough one", he said.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for the Florida's panhandle and Big Bend regions, along with parts of southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia, affecting about 3.7 million people, per CNN.

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"I guess it's the worst-case scenario".

"I felt like the odds are in our favor", Reynolds said. It had sustained winds of 155 mph, meaning it wasn't from a Category 5 storm - a Category 4 hurricane has sustained winds of up to 156 mph, and Category 5 is 157 mph and above.

Storm flooding leveled off along the Gulf Coast as of 11 p.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said. The sinister-looking red and gray skull appeared briefly on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration infrared satellite images.

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for all of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.

Gen, Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been taken by surprise by the rapid escalation of the storm. It was centred about 88.5km west northwest of Tallahassee. Amtrak has also modified its service and is waiving fees for passengers who change their reservations.

"The center of Michael is now moving into south-central Georgia".

Where the military ends up responding could shift north as Michael moves up the coast to the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

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