Monster Hurricane Michael brings 'unimaginable devastation' as it slams Florida

People wait for breakfast as they and others seek safety in a shelter as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Florida

People wait for breakfast as they and others seek safety in a shelter as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Florida

More than 780,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday in the wake of the storm.

A resident surveys the scattered belongings at a damaged home after Hurricane Michael hit in Panama City, Fla.

The initial flight was smooth, but things got steadily more turbulent as the aircraft got closer and closer to the eye of the storm.

Michael's rain and destructive winds aren't its only serious threats.

"We've been very cautious with sending our first responders out right now", she said.

The storm is now the most powerful hurricane on record to strike the Florida Panhandle.

Florida Governor Rick Scott promised a strong relief effort from his administration Thursday after the state was slammed by Hurricane Michael, the most powerful storm to hit the USA mainland in 50 years. "The emergency declaration is effective for seven days and makes all state resources available to local governments and entities within the impacted area of the hurricane", his office said.

Duke Energy reported more than 100,000 outages for customers in North and South Carolina Thursday afternoon and that number continued to grow.

Two deaths were blamed on the hurricane - one in Florida and one in Georgia as the storm raced across the neighbouring state, heading northeast.

It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on September 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 40 inches (101 centimeters) of rain.

Tyndall Air Force Base, located in Panama City on the coast of the Florida Panhandle, was fully evacuated Tuesday night, just before the Michael made landfall, said Air Force General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command.

As the Category 4 storm's center crossed nearby, Mulligan said, her concrete complex shook and vibrated against sustained winds of around 155 miles per hour.

The storm's eye is moving across southern Georgia and towards the Carolinas, which are still reeling from epic floods caused by Hurricane Florence last month.

Florida officials said Michael, packing winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kph), was the most powerful storm to hit the southern USA state in more than a century. Its sustained winds were just 2 miles per hour (3.2 kph) shy of being an extremely rare Category 5.

Michael was downgraded to a Tropical Storm on Thursday as it took its drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas.

Michael, which decreased to a tropical storm overnight, is continuing to weaken as it moves along the southeast US coast.

About 2,500 National Guard troops were deployed to assist with evacuations and storm preparations, and more than 4,000 others were on standby.

A storm surge of almost 8 feet was reported at Apalachicola.

Unsafe conditions from damaging winds and flooding rain were forecast to spread through Georgia and into the Carolinas Wednesday night and Thursday (Friday NZT).

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