Looters Go Through Wreckage of Family Dollar Store After Hurricane Michael

Harrowing tales of survival from town ravaged by storm

Weather forecast: PM thunderstorms expected

A search-and-rescue operation led by FEMA did not find any fatalities in Mexico Beach as of Friday morning, but Donald Walker, the town's interim fire chief, said that is likely to change.

"I have had employees going to the communities where our kids live, going door to door and checking", Principal Britt Smith said by phone. "So many families have lost everything", said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, calling it "unimaginable destruction".

Update (9:17 a.m.): Emergency crews across Hampton Roads are working to remove trees and downed power lines from roadways.

Michael had left a trail of utility wires on roads, flattened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church. The storm hit the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia hard, taking the lives of at least two people.

More than 375 000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in.

Which areas are worst affected?

Michael crashed ashore on Wednesday near the small town of Mexico Beach as the third most powerful hurricane ever to strike the USA mainland, carrying winds of up to 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour) and causing deep seawater flooding.

Michael slammed North Florida with 155 miles per hour winds — just shy of Category 5 strength — sent up to 10 feet of storm surge into coastal areas and damaged and demolished homes and businesses across the Panhandle.

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center in hard-hit Panama City, 32 km northwest of Mexico Beach, was treating some of the injured.

Apalachicola, with 2,300 residents, was also badly affected, the mayor reporting that downed cables were making it hard to get through the town. "An enormous amount of 911 calls are going unresponded to because we've got this priority to search and rescue". Scott added, "Right now, the top priority is making sure that things are safe".

But it wasn't just Florida that felt the wrath of the storm.

And then you hear faint bleeping sounds coming from all directions - a dissonant symphony of high-pitched notes that turn out to be myriad small alarms, still transmitting their warnings from the batteries which power them. "It went through Florida very, very quickly, it didn't linger, it didn't come back, as we had in Texas".

Picking our way through a mass of rubble and detritus that was once a house, we spot an American flag on the ground; in amongst it all there is also a toy auto and a cracked glass plate from a microwave.

Decambre said she had opened her home to a friend who takes care of three elderly women.

"Please don't come down", Linda Albrecht said.

The interior of a Family Dollar Store that had the storefront ripped off is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Millville, Fla.

Some of the most severe impacts were felt in Virginia, where authorities said five people had died - four of whom drowned.

In Florida, officials reported four deaths related to the storm, including a man who was killed when a tree crashed through the roof of his home in Greensboro.

Sarah Radney saw trees falling down all around her grandparents' home when Hurricane Michael roared over Georgia.

Hundreds of people have been rescued from the debris and authorities fear the toll could climb higher as search-and-rescue efforts continue.

Officials said that more than 1 million people were left without power in the wake of the storm.

Around 6,000 are thought to have sought refuge in official shelters, mainly in Florida.

With reduced winds of 50mph, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Michael has moved north-east crossing Georgia and is closing in on Greensboro, North Carolina.

It warned of damaging winds and possible flash flooding in North Carolina and states just to the north and said the storm was still packing winds of 50 miles per hour.

It was toppling trees and bringing life-threatening flash flooding to areas of Georgia and Virginia, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, as it marched northeast. Those numbers are added to almost 345,000 accounts without power in Florida and 150,000 in Georgia.

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