Michael’s death toll rises to 11, including 5 dead in Virginia

Hurricane Michael has arrived, and it's stronger than anyone expected

Mexico Beach is in ruins after Hurricane Michael made landfall

Hurricane Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday morning after smashing into the Sunshine State with 155 mile-an-hour winds, almost a Category 5 storm, leaving a path of massive destruction as it shredded a path across the Panhandle.

And unless we change the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, we should expect hurricanes to intensify more rapidly in the coming decades, the scientific research group Climate Central said.

Marciano was assessing the damage to a home with a local resident who said that when the ceiling collapsed, "four kittens came down with it".

While search-and-rescue teams were having difficulty reaching some areas on Thursday, the extent of the damage is slowly becoming clear with the before and after images showing the severe destruction. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, was closed because of debris.

Michael made landfall on Wednesday around 2 p.m. near Mexico Beach, Florida, dashing homes into pieces, swallowing marinas and leaving piles of rubble where shopping centres once stood.

Other homes were left in pieces - still others, slumping at odd angles.

Michael washed away white-sand beaches, hammered military bases and destroyed coastal communities, stripping trees to stalks, shredding roofs, toppling trucks and pushing boats into buildings.

In hard-hit Mexico Beach alone, state officials say, 285 people in Mexico Beach defied a mandatory evacuation order ahead of Michael.

He and his partner Cheri Papineau, 50, pushed on their door for an hour to stop the storm surge bursting in as their four dogs sat on top of a bed floating in their home.

"I didn't think it was going to be this bad", said Jones on her decision to stay through the storm. "Do you think it would have floated away?"

"I'm very concerned about our citizens that didn't evacuate and I just hope that, you know, we don't have much loss of life", Scott told ABC. "You want to check on things and begin the recovery process", Scott said. "We thought the windows were going to break at any time", Beu said.

- Power outages: Roughly a million customers in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and SC lost power.

"Our biggest thing is the downed lines and the downed trees", said Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson. Homes were split open by fallen trees.

The fatalities included Sarah Radney, an 11-year-old girl in Seminole County, Georgia, and a man in Greensboro, Florida.

US Army personnel used heavy equipment to push a path through debris in Mexico Beach to allow rescuers through to search for trapped residents, survivors or casualties, as Blackhawk helicopters circled overhead.

At least seven people were killed in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina from falling trees and other hurricane-related incidents, according to state officials.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows and twisted street signs lay on the ground. She was safe until a carport came crashing through the roof.

"Large parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia could still see deadly flash floods on Thursday and remain under a tropical storm warning", it said.

It forced more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast to evacuate as it gained strength quickly while crossing the eastern Gulf of Mexico toward north Florida.

Emergency services carried out dozens of rescues of people caught in swiftly moving floodwaters in North Carolina.

"We were actually estimating about twice if not three times that amount being out as a result of the system", said Mr.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the United States mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. As reported by The Weather Channel, the hurricane-turned-tropical-storm continues to travel up the East Coast with wind speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

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