The storm made landfall on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. The intense Category 4 hurricane was packing maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour when it crashed ashore near Mexico Beach, a lightly populated tourist town about midway along the Panhandle.
Forecasters warned that Michael could ultimately dump a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in western Cuba, triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountain areas.
Under Dayton's emergency order, six National Guard soldiers and a CH-47 Chinook heavy transport helicopter will head to Florida to assist with recovery efforts. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner told local election supervisors that if their offices were closed due to the hurricane, they could accept paper applications when their offices reopen.
- Hurricane history: first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Florida's Panhandle since record-keeping began in 1851.
- The human cost: A man in Gadsden County, Florida, killed by a falling tree, and an 11-year-old girl in Seminole County, Georgia, killed when a carport blew through the roof of her home. Michael could reach or be close to a Category 3 by Tuesday night or Wednesday.
There are two reported deaths.
How many people have died? Authorities were also searching for a boy swept away by a river in Guatemala. Most of the rain was blamed on a low-pressure system off the Pacific coast, but Michael in the Caribbean could have also contributed.
He also warned caregivers at north Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all possible to assure the safety of the elderly and infirm.
Thousands of homes and businesses were blown apart as Michael cut its swath across the Florida Panhandle and into Georgia.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in more than 20 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend on Sunday.
Just previous year, 14 people died following Hurricane Irma when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning.
"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient".
"Families should take the opportunity TODAY to make sure they have three days of food and water, as well as all needed medications", Scott wrote on Twitter on Monday.
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter crew reported top sustained winds up to of 145 miles per hour with higher gusts.
"This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, please take heed, " the sheriff's office said in the post.
Michael has caused more than 500,000 power outages in Florida, Alabama and Georgia as of Wednesday night.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is also the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the November 6 elections, said on Sunday he was cancelling his campaign events and returning to Tallahassee, the state capital, to focus on storm preparations. "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water' and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".