The powerful storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane and ripped through the Florida Panhandle with 155 miles per hour winds and 12-foot waves that left a trail of destruction in its wake. Many buildings have no roofs. Its sustained winds were just 2 miles per hour (3.2 kph) shy of being an extremely rare Category 5.
An evacuee lies on the floor at an evacuation shelter set up at Rutherford High School.
"I'm anxious about my daughter and grandbaby". "I worry about them every second and I hope there're no children there who didn't have the choice on their own to make these decisions".
More than 17,000 people tuned into the broadcast, including Sen. Much of the affected area is rural and known for small tourist cities, beaches and wildlife reserves, as well as the state capital, Tallahassee, home to about 190,000 people.
More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were urged to evacuate as Michael closed in. "God bless everyone because it's going to be a rough one", he said. It's very, very scary. "Things happen to even the most experienced chasers", said Rachael Adair. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and he said the roar of the storm sounded like a jet engine as the winds accelerated.
Hurricane Michael, a category 4 storm, slammed into the Sunshine State, bringing winds over 150 miles per hour.
Michael gained sudden force Tuesday night as it churned over the Gulf of Mexico.
The strongest storm to hit Florida in many decades has resulted in the death of a man. We thought the windows were going to break at any time.
With a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, the measure of a hurricane's force, Michael ranked as the third-strongest storm on record to make landfall in the continental United States.
Storm flooding leveled off along the Gulf Coast as of 11 p.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said.
"The time to evacuate the coastal areas has come and gone".
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for Florida, freeing up federal funds for relief operations and providing the assistance of FEMA, which has more than 3,000 people on the ground. He was briefed by FEMA's Long in the Oval Office on preparations.
More than 311,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Georgia and Alabama have also been left without power, according to local power companies. Some 17,000 utility restoration workers were also on call.
Information from the Associated Press was used to supplement this report.
Mike Thomas, the mayor of Panama City Beach, a resort west of Panama City, said he expected there would be casualties and that emergency personnel would not go out when winds get over 80km/h.
"We basically just walked away from everything and said goodbye to it", he said, tears welling up. "We're kind of getting crushed", Franklin County Sheriff A.J.
Forecasters said it would unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.
Michael is predicted to be a tropical storm by the time it reaches the SC border with Georgia, according to the National Weather Service. Up to a foot (30 cm) of rainfall was forecast for some areas.
Up to 12 inches of rain could fall in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend areas, as well as southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia.