FEMA focusing on search and rescue after Michael passes through

S Hurricane Michael drenches Florida Panhandle

The storm also intensified extremely rapidly, leaving people scrambling to make plans - it transformed from a small tropical depression into a record-breaking Category 4 hurricane in just 72 hours.

By 8am on Thursday it had been downgraded to a tropical storm with 85km/h (50mph) winds as it pushed through Georgia into the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

The coastal towns of Panama City and Mexico Beach bore the brunt of the damage from the category four storm, which at one point reached speeds of 155mph.

At 11:00 am Eastern time (1500 GMT), Michael was dumping heavy rainfall on South and North Carolina, where cities and towns are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the USA mainland, weakened overnight to a tropical storm and pushed northeast on Thursday, bringing drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month. "You want to check on things, and begin the recovery process", Scott said.

Video shot by CNN from a helicopter showed homes closest to the water in Mexico Beach had lost all but their foundations.

In hard-hit Mexico Beach alone, state officials say, 285 people in Mexico Beach defied a mandatory evacuation order ahead of Michael. More than 6 inches of rain has fallen in the western part of the state, Cooper said.

More than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas are without power in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

Entire blocks of homes near the beach were obliterated, reduced to nothing but concrete slabs in the sand.

"State and local governments have stayed on top of moving patients out of hospitals, that have been damaged, and we'll continue to push forward, and right now, we don't have an idea of how long those hospitals are out of commission", said Long.

TWO DAYS AFTER. People stand in line at a supermarket in Port Saint Joe, Florida, on October 12, 2018.

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Michael was expected to leave the USA east coast on Friday.

Debris left by Hurricane Michael seen in Mexico Beach, Fla., early Thursday. That figure includes wind and storm surge damage to homes, cars and industrial and commercial properties covered by private insurers, the company said in a report.

"I'm very concerned about our citizens that didn't evacuate and I just hope that, you know, we don't have much loss of life", Scott told ABC.

Catastrophic scenes have emerged across the Florida Panhandle, with Mexico Breach ground zero of the devastation. Total damages from storm surge are estimated to be $3.7 billion, of which about ten percent will be insured. An 11-year-old girl in Georgia also died when Michael's winds picked up a carport and dropped it through the roof of her grandparents' home.

Briefing President Donald Trump at the White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said Michael was the most intense hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since record keeping began in 1851.

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