Gov. Rick Scott announced afterward that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode. More than 40,000 people lost power across the state. Up to a foot (30 cm) of rain was forecast in Florida.
Hurricane Michael will also cause almost one million people to be without power, not just on the coast but inland as well in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. "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.
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.
"It feels like a nightmare", she said."Looking at the pictures, I'm thinking there is not a house left in that town".
Storm Team 4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts said Wednesday that Michael would have a bit more of an impact on the area than it appeared on Tuesday, though a cold front heading across the USA would still, in fact, fend off the worst.
Storm surge could reach up to 14ft in parts of the hurricane zone.
Warmer water acts as fuel for a hurricane, helping it develop into a more destructive, windier storm.
"Lake City dodged a huge one here", Reynolds said. "A very risky one".
Linda Albrecht, a councilwoman in Mexico Beach, spoke to the network about leaving her home with only a few essential objects. He acknowledged that a lot of the residents in the area were poor and said it was probably tough to leave. The lead-gray water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes.
Briefing President Donald Trump at the White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Brock Long said Michael was the most intense hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since 1851.
Never in recorded weather history has a hurricane hit the mainland United States at such a speed in October, the month marking the end of the June to November hurricane season.
The storm is likely to fire up the debate over global warming. But without extensive study, they can not directly link a single weather event to the changing climate. Just as Northern politicians are judged on how they handle snowstorms, their Southern counterparts are watched closely for how they deal with hurricanes.