Track Hurricane Michael flooding in real time

He said he thinks she was home when Michael hit.

Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Florida Panhandle to reach trapped people in Michael's wake Thursday after the third-most powerful hurricane on record to hit the continental USA carved a path of destruction across the Southeast.

Some of the worst damage was in Mexico Beach where the hurricane crashed ashore on Wednesday as a category four monster with 155mph winds and a storm surge of 9 feet.

Hurricane Michael is tracking closer to land, but when will it hit Florida?

"The ragged but raging remains of Hurricane Michael" were in North Carolina on Thursday morning, the state's governor, Roy Cooper, said.

Sitting outside his home, reading a magazine, less than 100 yards from the water's edge in Wynnehaven, he knows Hurricane Michael is now due to make landfall 50 or 60 miles to his east. Another 3,500 National Guard members were also ready to deploy, he said.

"I just need to know he's OK", McCall said.

One death has been confirmed in the state.

And in Greensboro, Florida, a man died Wednesday after a tree fell on a home, the local sheriff's office said.

Michael has left over 343,000 in the state without power.

The devastation reminded her of what she witnessed in 1992 when Andrew hit.

In Roberta, Georgia, a reported tornado devastated the small town.

Michael could also have lingering impact on agriculture in state, officials warned.

In many cases, the maximum wind speed isn't the biggest factor in how deadly or costly a hurricane wound up being. When a hurricane reaches 157 miles per hour, it is a Category 5, the highest possible.

Long, the head of FEMA, said many Florida buildings were not built to withstand a storm above the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Storm surge warnings were in place along the Florida and Alabama coasts.

The small Gulf Coast community of Mexico Beach was known as a slice of Old Florida. The soil in many areas is saturated. Its largest city is Pensacola, with a population approaching half a million.

Bobby Smith boarded up windows at Jani's Ceramics in Panama City, Fla. "Early reports from locals is catastrophic devastation", Sen.

"It will take a long time to recover from this". But "we have to make sure things are safe".

Thousands fled the Florida coastline before Michael hit. Bill Nelson said. "You are going to see a lot of destruction when the rescue crews get into Mexico Beach". Those who remained were urged to shelter in place.

At 8 a.m., Michael was centred was about 90 miles (145 kilometres) from Panama City and Apalachicola, moving fast at 13 mph (21 kph).

"This happened so quickly, we weren't exactly prepared", he said. "It was too late", Swab said. "I don't suggest trying to ride out a storm".

"We didn't think it was going to be this bad", she told CNN.

One objective as recovery got under way was to help people who could be trapped in various areas along the coast, he told a news conference.

"During disasters, Floridians take care of each other", Scott said.

He added that school is closed for the rest of the week and students living off campus were given the option to stay in a hurricane shelter on school grounds.

Mexico Beach is on the west end of what is sometimes called Florida's Forgotten Coast, so named because it is not heavily developed like numerous state's other shoreline areas, with their lavish homes and high-rise condos and hotels.

More than 30,000 workers from at least 24 states have been mobilized to restore power, officials said.

What's not helping: the storm is spending two to three days over the Gulf of Mexico which has warm waters and favorable atmospheric conditions for it to strengthen.

Federal officials were anxious that the fast-moving nature of the storm didn't give residents enough time to get out. We will continue to monitor Hurricane Michael's path and GEMA/HS is leading our preparedness efforts.

When she dared to look outside, Mexico Beach's emerald waters and white sugar-sand beaches were covered in a dark sea of splintered debris, she said.

Vanessa Coleman