By 8 a.m., winds had slowed to 50 mph as Michael crossed SC, about 40 miles west of Columbia, The storm had picked up speed to a fast 21 mph and should continue weakening. The storm hacked a trail of catastrophic destruction in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia before finally heading back out over water.
"Hurricane Michael can not break Florida", Mr Scott vowed.
In Apalachicola about 35 miles to the southeast and just inside the perimeter for hurricane winds, a tidal gauge recorded water at 8.55 feet before 7 p.m. Wednesday.
A small "ride-out" team that hunkered down as the hurricane's destructive eyewall passed directly overhead ventured out to find almost every building severely damaged, many a complete loss. The Atlantic writes that the storm's freakishly low pressure and sustained but brutal winds, which peaked at 155 miles per hour, flattened neighborhoods, snapped trees, and left hundreds without power. Gulf and Franklin counties, which are on the coast, and Holmes County, which is to the north, were all more than 90 percent without power.
Emergency officials in SC are reporting no injuries or deaths so far as Tropical Storm Michael moves across the state.
Patricia Mulligan said she survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992, only to encounter the wrath of another storm Wednesday.
He chose the spot where his house stands on tall stilts overlooking the Gulf waters in 1972 after it was the only lot left dry after a storm flooded the beach that year. But emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings.
The storm shreds the roof of a suburban home.
A day later, the beach town remained hard to reach by land, with roads covered by fallen trees, power lines and other debris.
Long 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.
As many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast had disregarded evacuation notices, according to Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said the storm had caused "unbelievable devastation" and the priority for the moment was looking for survivors among residents who failed to heed orders to evacuate.
Her brother, she said, lost a condo along the beach, and the other nearby units were also destroyed. She said she moved to the popular seaside destination, about 20 miles east of Panama City Beach, less than three months ago.
FEMA head Brock Long acknowledged that evacuation efforts in the area were slow compared with how fast the hurricane intensified.
Hurricane Michael's wind and storm surge ripped up buildings like posies and carried them inland.
President Donald Trump announced plans to visit Florida and hard-hit Georgia early next week but did not say what day he would arrive.
- To the rescue: U.S. Coast Guard crews have pulled 27 people from damaged homes along Florida's coastline.
The Florida Highway Patrol has closed an 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10 to clear debris from Hurricane Michael.
Further north, the U.S. Coast Guard set Port Condition Yankee for North Carolina ports, and X-ray for Port of Virginia.