Northern Florida Hit Hard By Powerful Hurricane Michael

Florida beach town devastated by Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael has devastated the Florida Panhandle, leaving at least six people dead and nothing more than empty foundations and rubble in some parts of the small coastal towns it crashed through with near-record breaking force.

Although most homes were still standing, no property was left undamaged and downed power lines lay almost everywhere.

There have been at least two reported deaths in the USA since Michael made landfall along the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane.

It said there were still people stuck in flooded areas, or cut off by fallen trees. "We worked all night in endangered circumstances".

"We had houses that were on one side of the street and now they're on the other", said Mayor Bo Patterson, who watched trees fly by his window as he rode out the storm in his home seven blocks from the beach.

Michael was a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale, just shy of a rare Category 5, when it came ashore. It weakened steadily as it traveled inland over the Panhandle.

Widespread cell tower and internet outages have been reported along the devastating path of Hurricane Michael, according to the Federal Communications Commission's first report following Wednesday's storm.

Parts of North Carolina and Virginia could get as much as 9 inches (23cm) of rain and life-threatening flash floods, the NHC said. The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

More than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power.

Thousands of people hunkered down in shelters overnight after fleeing their homes ahead of the storm.

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center in hard-hit Panama City, 32 km northwest of Mexico Beach, was treating some of the injured. Wind damage was also evident.

Down the road, one property featured a garage complete with motorbike, untouched, next to a home that had been splintered to pieces by three huge trees. The level of outages following Michael are similar to when Hurricane Irma struck Florida a year ago.

At the time, its maximum sustained wind speeds were measuring around 155 miles per hour, making it the strongest hurricane on record to directly hit that part of The Sunshine State. Only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the so-called Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys were more intense.

The Florida Department of Transportation is leading an effort with "dozens of crews" to clear roadways so first responders can access more areas that have been affected by the storm, the governor said.

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