It's very, very scary.
First responders in Bay County were no longer able to respond to emergencies as of Wednesday morning and Florida Highway Patrol pulled troopers away from coastal areas, saying it was too unsafe for them to remain.
"Those who stick around to experience storm surge don't typically live to tell about it", said FEMA's Long. The heaviest of the rain will end through the overnight hours tonight but we should remain on the lookout for showers or a few thunderstorms to continue into the morning hours on Friday as well, especially for areas south of Philadelphia. "We're working diligently to get to everyone as quickly as we can".
Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 mph), Camille and Andrew in 1992. The storm is expected to hit many military-heavy areas that were just struck by Hurricane Florence.
In Georgia, an 11-year-old girl died when a auto port flipped into the air by a gust of wind landed on her home, Travis Brooks, head of the emergency relief agency in Seminole County, told AFP.
"Going back through records to 1851 we can't find another Cat 4 in this area, so this is unfortunately a historical and incredibly unsafe and life-threatening situation", he said.
"Dawn in Panama City, Florida, revealed a sprawling mess of nearly unimaginable devastation wrought by the third-most powerful hurricane in recorded history to lash the USA mainland", as Fox News reported.
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. Another 92,000 in Georgia and 49,900 in Alabama also were without power.
As the storm moved northward, it tore through Panama City. Only 5,000 or so have showed up at shelters, suggesting that a large number of people ignored officials' advice, he said. "We're kind of getting crushed", Franklin County Sheriff A.J. So far that request has not been made, as Florida has 2,300 of its own Guard forces activated, and due to its long history with hurricanes, has aircraft and ground supplies set to respond.
Scott held a news conference Wednesday evening and urged people to stay off roads and leave them open to first responders as they begin the work of search and rescue - and recovery.
Hurricane Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday morning after smashing into the Sunshine State with 155 mile-an-hour winds, almost a Category 5 storm, leaving a path of massive destruction as it shredded a path across the Panhandle. Up to a foot (30 cm) of rainfall was forecast for some areas from Michael.