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"Today is the day". The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left widespread destruction and wasn't finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia toward the Carolinas, a region still reeling from epic flooding in Hurricane Florence.

Scott said 1,000 search and rescue personnel were ready to respond as soon as Michael passes.

The governors of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and North and SC have declared emergencies for at least parts of their states, the New York Times said.

Outside, she said in a phone interview, she could see remnants of people's lives strewn about: refrigerators, a beanbag chair, a washing machine, a kayak and a dresser. Michael is expected to rain 4 to 7 in. from eastern to southern mid-Atlantic Georgia.

Farther inland, Tallahassee city officials were grappling with wind damage that had brought down numerous city's trees, blocking streets and knocking out power.

President Donald Trump has endorsed Scott and DeSantis. "I would have to say at least as long as it did for Hurricane Andrew, and that took months and months". "It looks like another big one".

A pine tree punched a hole in their roof, and Beu's ears popped because of the drop in barometric pressure from the storm.

The governor activated 750 National Guardsmen for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before. "We had the inside windows kind of barricaded in with mattresses", Beu said. Michael pushed a 10-foot (3-meter) storm surge and 155 miles per hour (249 kph) winds, just shy of a Category 5 hurricane, and Mexico Beach got the worst of it.

Colleen Swab, her mother and her young daughter took shelter in a closet in Panama City Beach, Florida. But the surging seawater could also create perilous problems far from the coast, raising rivers and bays to unsafe levels as it pushes as much as 10 to 15 miles inland. And then there was the life-threatening storm surge to deal with.

Hurricane Michael effects possible for Beaufort County
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 35 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend. The storm's center and where it makes landfall with its destructive winds represent just one of several concerns.

Residents who evacuated ahead of the storm have been anxious to get back home and to start the clean-up process.

Many residents with destroyed or damaged homes counted themselves lucky to have survived.

With a number of counties ordering evacuations, Scott waived highway tolls in the northwest part of the state.

People in the crosshairs had to make last-minute preparations for the monstrous storm's arrival - and for how to cope in its aftermath. "I don't think anyone would have experienced this in the Panhandle", meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com told The Associated Press.

"I've never been through one this bad", said Jerry Nelson, who was born and raised outside Panama City, where winds ripped away bricks from the facade of the historic high school and mangled building after building.

Tallahassee International Airport ‏is suspending commercial flight activity as 12:01 a.m. ET on Wednesday but expects to resume activity on Thursday. "Once you are sheltered, STAY PUT", Florida Gov. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

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Michael's barometric pressure at landfall was 919 millibars, by that measurement the third-strongest hurricane to hit the US on record, trailing on the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane and Hurricane Camille in 1969. "Early reports from locals is catastrophic devastation", Sen. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine.

The hurricane came ashore on Wednesday with winds of 155mph, at Mexico Beach, a small town with a population of 1,200, which suffered the brunt of the devastation.