Some of the hardest-hit places are Mexico Beach and other communities along the Panhandle, where Michael razed buildings, snapped huge trees in half and threw debris over roads.
14 feet: The maximum height forecast for the storm surge when Michael's strong winds pushed the ocean water onto land. A little more and he would have reached the most destructive of the 5th category, which is called catastrophic.
"All of my furniture was floating", said Marquardt, 67.
Mr Scott is also keen to avoid problems caused by Hurricane Irma just over a year ago when a lack of workers left many local shelters under-staffed.
At least six deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S.in over 50 years, and by early Friday it wasn't over yet: a tropical storm long after Wednesday's landfall, Michael stubbornly kept up its punch while barrelling up the Southeast, dumping heavy rains and spreading flash flooding misery as far away as Virginia. The storm's center is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area before moving northeastward across the Southeastern U.S. And while forecasters said Michael was gradually losing its tropical traits, it was a new chapter would begin as an extratropical storm predicted to intensify with gale force winds once it starts cross out into the Atlantic.
In North Carolina, still struggling to recover after Florence, up to 6 inches of rain had fallen in the mountains by Thursday morning, and people had to be rescued from cars trapped in high water.
Uprooted trees, downed power poles and limited communications have made it hard for first responders and families to reach residents in need. Similar scenes played out in parts of Virginia as the storm raced seawards.
Rick Scott said damage along the state's coast from Mexico Beach to Panama City was "way worse than anybody ever anticipated", according to Reuters. Hundreds of cars had broken windows, many turned askew by the wind.
The hurricane also damaged hospitals and nursing homes in the Panama City area, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients.
Many flights were canceled in the hurricane zone, and Amtrak changed some train schedules to protect passengers and employees.
An insurance company that produces models for catastrophes estimated the damage at $8 billion.
Now that the storm has passed, people are returning to find extensive damage to homes, businesses, and their communities. It doesn't include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.
A man was killed when a tree crashed through the roof of his house in Greensboro, Florida. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm.
"We know many people have been injured". The fate of about 280 residents who authorities said ignored evacuation orders was unknown.
Among those brought to safety were nine people rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of their home in hard-hit Panama City after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said.
Almost 300 people were known to have ignored a mandatory evacuation order to leave Mexico Beach before the storm.
While most homes around him are vacation rentals or summer getaways for their owners, Sadousky had stayed put through more than four decades of storms.
Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for the elderly mother of a friend. "Houses where the gas was left on caught fire in Mexico Beach, threatening to burn down the entire neighborhood".
The Duchess of Cambridge stuns at museum outing
Kate and Will chose a mental health summit as their first royal engagement after the Duchess' maternity leave. The couple are expected to attend Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's wedding on Friday 12 October.
The power of support for mental health
This year's event will be crowned with a public lecture on mental health at the Ebenezer Presbyterian Church Hall at Osu in Accra. England, one in three employees in the United Kingdom have been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point.