At least two deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental United States in over 50 years, and it wasn't done yet: Though weakened into a tropical storm, it continued to bring heavy rain and blustery winds to the Southeast as it pushed inland, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.
"There were mandatory evacuation orders, but only idiots like us stuck around", said Jordon Tood, 31, a charter boat captain in Port St. Joe.
Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. "Don't try to get back into your homes until we give the word that it's all clear to come back".
The storm tore entire neighbourhoods apart, reducing homes and businesses to piles of wood and siding, damaging roads and leaving scenes of devastation that resembled the aftermath of a carpet-bombing operation.
Damage in Panama City near where Michael came ashore Wednesday afternoon was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay almost everywhere.
From a helicopter, you can see that numerous homes and hotels that populated this beachside town of about 1,200 are gone.
"Our process following the storm begins with our evaluation teams arriving in smaller trucks that can more easily navigate through debris and damage", said Gulf Power spokesperson, Jeff Rogers.
"We weren't safe at all", she said.
FEMA administrator Brock Long estimated the power outages from the storm affected between 500,000 and 600,000, which was fewer than he had anticipated, adding that it could be "multiple weeks" before electricity is restored to some homes. "But we ask that every time". Long at a press conference. "We just didn't think it would be that bad".
Hurricane Michael's pounding waves and winds obliterated row after row of beachfront homes at ground zero on the Florida Panhandle when the epic Category 4 hurricane slammed ashore at midweek. Two people have been killed in Florida by falling trees, officials said. All three were Category 5 hurricanes. Unlike many storms, which form off the coast of Africa, Michael organized in the Caribbean, giving forecasters less time to track it before it made landfall.
"This was a success for modern technology", said Roger A. Pielke Sr., University of Colorado Boulder meteorologist.
The moment was captured on ABC News' live video, and it was also widely shared on social media, where many questioned the fate of the four-legged storm victims.
More than 370,000 people in Florida were ordered to evacuate but officials believe many ignored the warning.
Florida is also still shaking off the effects of Hurricane Irma in some places, with several resorts in the Florida Keys only just open again nearly a year after the Category 3 storm ripped through the area in September 2017. "I was told this morning that is is 'gone'".
"We spent all night doing search and rescue, we're going to spend all day doing search and rescue". Storm surge is worse now than it was 100 years ago, thanks to the rise in sea levels. "NWS/NASA efforts here well worth the taxes paid to support this effort".