Hurricane Michael plows inland, leaving devastation behind

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Michael made landfall as a 155 miles per hour Category 4 storm Wednesday afternoon in Mexico Beach, Florida.

The storm made landfall near Mexico Beach just before 1 p.m. with a storm surge that was recorded at 8 feet in one place along the Panhandle coast. Nine people had to be rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of a home in hard-hit Panama City after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said.

State officials issued disaster declarations in Alabama and Georgia and the storm is also expected to bring heavy rainfall to North and SC.

A man was killed when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials said and local media reported.

Patterson was one of about 2,500 of the town's 3,500 residents who ended up staying put, as many were caught off guard by the storm's rapid escalation as it approached.

Hit head-on by Hurricane Michael, homes in this town of about 1,190 people were shattered or ripped from their foundations.

Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992. That could change, as efforts to assess damage and look for casualties in the worst-hit communities have been hampered by downed utility lines and roads blocked by debris and fallen trees.

"We had houses that were on one side of the street and now they're on the other", said Mayor Bo Patterson, who watched trees fly by his window as he rode out the storm in his home seven blocks from the beach.

Roy and his Sarah's step-mother Amber said Thursday that Sarah loved being around her big family, dancing and singing and made everything more fun.

The kittens eventually made their way to the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS shelter, in Fort Walton, where they are now adoptable, Marciano said in a tweet.

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Michael crossed Georgia with heavy winds overnight and, now a tropical storm, is headed to the Carolinas.

The coastal city of Apalachicola reported a storm surge of almost 8ft (2.5m).

Conditions remain precarious in hard hit areas, especially Mexico Beach, Florida, where the hurricane crashed into it with 155 miles per hour winds and a storm surge of 9 feet.

Florida authorities have gotten thousands of calls asking about missing persons in the region hammered in Hurricane Michael, but so far no reports of widespread deaths.

"Large parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia could still see deadly flash floods on Thursday and remain under a tropical storm warning", it said.

Michael caused destruction in western Cuba and parts of Central America before striking the United States. The lead-gray water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes. It also was an October icon - the strongest continental United States hurricane to make an October landfall based on maximum sustained winds at 155 miles per hour.

He added that his 12-year-old son witnessed "the whole thing".

State emergency officials said Friday morning that they have canceled, for now, plans to set up a temporary mortuary unit in the Panhandle.

Another storm chaser, Mark Sudduth, tweeted: "Drove from Panama City nearly to Mexico Beach and I can tell you this is the worst damage from wind that I have ever seen!"

"You can't make sense of it, but what you do is you take the situation, and what we have to make certain that our kids know is that we must be resilient", Smith said. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle. "Insurers with the largest market shares in US states to be hit by Hurricane Michael have considerable exposures, but these are manageable given each company's overall policyholder surplus".