Michael, so powerful that it remained a hurricane for 12 hours after making landfall in Mexico Beach, thrashed the Carolinas and Virginia and was growing stronger again over the Atlantic, where the National Hurricane Center predicted it would eventually menace Britain with tropical-storm force winds. So far, Coast Guard crews in Florida have rescued 40 people and assisted 232. In the storm's wake lay crushed and flooded buildings, shattered lives and at least 11 deaths that state and local officials have linked to the storm, with authorities investigating another three deaths.
"It's absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic", Crown said.
Other people were pulled to safety from wrecks and flash floods across the Carolinas and Virginia as tropical-storm force winds downed trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without power.
The storm was officially classified as a Category 4 - on the verge of Category 5 - but weakened as it continued its rapid advance up towards Georgia and the Carolinas, where cities still reeling from Hurricane Florence prepared for another onslaught of rain and wind.
While many cities along the Florida Panhandle enjoy the protection of various channel, barrier and tied islands, which can help stifle the impact of storm surge on the mainland, Mexico Beach sits between Crooked Island and the St. Joseph Peninsula, directly on the water. They had watched it gain strength from a category two storm on Tuesday as it crossed the Gulf of Mexico and headed for Florida.
"When the water came in, houses started floating in front of our home", he said.
"We don't know where she's at", he said.
Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the USA mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. "There's nothing left here anymore". "I just need to know".
Now they have the grim task of accounting for all who stayed behind.
Michael ripped apart beach homes and boats, Mulligan said. "We will not rest or waver until the job is done and the recovery is complete". Downed power lines lay almost everywhere.
Patricia Mulligan said she survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992, only to encounter the wrath of another storm Wednesday. Several hours passed before emergency officials could reach the unincorporated area where the girl was killed, county emergency management director Travis Brooks said. Homes were split open by fallen trees.
Surging water filled their first floor, now muddy and ruined. Roads were impassable and canals were choked with debris.
"As you go east of Panama City, that's where that wall of water on the eastern side of the eye wall is", said Sen.
Social media websites were filled with messages from people trying to reach missing family members in Florida's Bay and Gulf Counties.
Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for a friend's elderly mother who thought she would be OK in her small cinderblock house just 150 yards (meters) from the Gulf.
Blocks and blocks of homes were demolished, reduced to splintered lumber or mere concrete slabs by the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S.in almost 50 years.
The latest two deaths in North Carolina occurred in McDowell County when a auto struck a tree that had fallen across a road, officials said.
Her brother, she said, lost a condo along the beach, and the other nearby units were also destroyed.
The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center as of 4 PM CDT shows that Michael has strengthened into a Category 3 major hurricane.
"Luckily we did not get a surge", Tenbrunson said of his home.
Human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere create an energy imbalance, with more than 90% of remaining heat trapped by the gases going into the oceans, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. "We've got supplies to last us a week".
The Lanark Fire Department tweeted video of a terrifying storm surge creeping up the shore, bringing seawater into a carport of a beachfront home. Numerous 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated ahead of the storm.