Near 850,000 customers without power in U.S. Southeast after Michael

Hurricane Michael's projected path as of 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday Oct. 9 2018.   National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Michael's projected path as of 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday Oct. 9 2018. National Hurricane Center

- The human cost: A man in Gadsden County, Florida, killed by a falling tree, and an 11-year-old girl in Seminole County, Georgia, killed when a carport blew through the roof of her home.

Michael sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore.

Desolate concrete slabs where houses once stood. Uprooted trees. Piles of rubble and debris everywhere.

The extent of the damage was becoming clear on Thursday as AFP reporters and photographers toured affected areas and United States television networks flew helicopters along the coast.

The third-most powerful hurricane to hit the US 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. "Hopefully more people will leave". "I don't know the numbers yet".

As thousands of first responders and 3,500 National Guard descended upon Floridas Gulf Coast, many across Florida and beyond are left asking: What is the states plan?

The Florida State Emergency Response Team meanwhile said 400,000 homes and businesses were without power.

Diane Farris, 57, and her son walked to a high school-turned-shelter near their home in Panama City to find about 1,100 people crammed into a space meant for about half as many. Others were missing roofs or walls.

Entire blocks of homes near the beach were washed away, leaving nothing but concrete slabs in the sand. "All the stores, all the restaurants, everything - there's nothing left here anymore". All the stores, all the restaurants, everything. "You know, that's hard", she said, choking back tears.

"This was never in our imagination", he said.

In Panama City, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Mexico Beach, buildings were crushed and boats were scattered around.

The storm's winds partially demolished some structures in Panama City and stripped off roofs.

Hurricane Michael has arrived, and it's stronger than anyone expected
People look on at a damaged store after Hurricane Michael passed through on October 10 in Panama City, Florida . The death, in an area west of state capital Tallahassee, was the first confirmed since Michael made landfall.

The hurricane then roared north through southwest Georgia and was on Thursday setting its sights on North and SC, states that are still reeling from historic flooding left by Hurricane Florence last month.

At least two deaths were blamed on Michael, and it wasn't done yet: Though weakened into a tropical storm, it continued to bring heavy rain and blustery winds to the Southeast as it pushed inland, soaking areas still recovering from last month's Hurricane Florence.

President Donald Trump promised to provide speedy assistance to help recovery efforts. "With no shear, Michael would have intensified substantially faster", he said.

Olivia Smith, public information officer for the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners, said there was "one hurricane-related fatality", adding that the incident was "debris-related".

Field hospitals are in the process of being set up, and could likely serve the community for a long time.

While prediction of a storm's path has grown increasingly accurate, the ability to predict rapid intensification has lagged somewhat, said Haiyan Jiang, an associate professor in the department of earth and environment at Florida International University.

It is the third-most-powerful storm on record to hit the US, and the worst in almost 50 years, since Hurricane Camille in 1969.

Some footage taken while the storm still raged is also surfacing, including a shocking video of one woman's flooded yard in St. George Island being totally flooded, per CNN.

The Gulf of Mexico gave Michael exactly what it needed to bulk up into a monster: The water was 4 to 5 degrees F (2.2 to 2.8 degrees C) warmer than normal, and high-atmosphere winds that can disrupt a hurricane were quiet.

Previous year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

Several hours after the hurricane made landfall, the eye of the storm had moved out of the Panhandle and was just west of Albany, Georgia, the NHC said.

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