High winds, downed trees, streets inundated by rising waters and multiple rescues of motorists from waterlogged cars played out in spots around Virginia and neighbouring North Carolina.
Some of the hardest-hit places are Mexico Beach and other communities along the Panhandle, where Michael razed buildings, snapped huge trees in half and threw debris over roads.
Surging water filled their first floor, now muddy and ruined.
Row after row of beachfront homes were obliterated by the epic Category 4 hurricane.
"All of my furniture was floating", said Marquardt, 67. "It was bad, and now there's just nothing left".
Nearly 1.1m homes and businesses were without power from Florida to Virginia early on Friday, according to utility companies.
A member of the South Florida Search and Rescue team searches for survivors in the destruction left after Hurricane Michael passed through the area on Thursday in Mexico Beach, Florida.
Video footage has emerged of looters going through a Family Dollar store in the wake of Hurricane Michael in Florida. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Roofs were peeled away, sent airborne, and homes were split open by fallen trees.
Hundreds of cars had broken windows.
Linda Clarke gasped repeatedly at the sight of her once new home in Shell Point Beach - now severely damaged.
Tyndall Air Force Base "took a beating", so much so that Col. Brian Laidlaw told the 3,600 men and women stationed on the base not to come back.
The hurricane's eyewall passed directly overhead, severely damaging almost every building and leaving many a complete loss. The elementary school, the flight line, the marina and the runways were devastated.
"But you know what...it's just stuff, it's just stuff", she told her husband as they walked through their home.
"I've never seen anything like this craziness", said Tamara's Cafe owner Danny Itzkovitz, 54, as he was busy grilling burgers.
"This morning, Florida's Gulf Coast and Panhandle and the Big Bend are waking up to unimaginable destruction", state Governor Rick Scott said.
"I have had employees going to the communities where our kids live, going door to door and checking", said Principal Britt Smith by phone.
"Our hearts are with the thousands who have sustained property damage, in many cases entirely wiped out", Trump said. Total damages from storm surge are estimated to be $3.7 billion, of which about ten percent will be insured. It doesn't include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.
As Hurricane Michael drew strength from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it stunned experts with its abrupt transformation from garden-variety October storm to history-making monster.
Michael killed at least six people - including a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle.
Although weaker as it pushed over the southeastern United States, the storm carried high winds and delivered drenching rains to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. Four of them drowned, including James King of Dry Fork, Virginia. The residence is located just north of the state Capitol.
It weakened to a storm as it moved inland towards the north-east, but at least six people have died, a lot of them in Florida.
Michael had left a trail of utility wires on roads, flattened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church.
More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in. But it moved fast and intensified quickly, and emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings.
Bay County officials said 56 people chose to stay in their homes in Mexico Beach. But the fate of many residents was unknown.
A little further on, and a woman, accompanied by a friend, is sifting through the remains of her home, loading what she can salvage into the boot of a vehicle.
"Do you think her body would be here?".