Hurricane Michael 2018 full coverage and updates

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Almost a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour when it hit near Mexico Beach in Florida, Michael traveled northeast, decreasing to a tropical storm with 60 miles per hour winds in central Georgia by 2 a.m. EDT Thursday.

Hurricane Michael crashed ashore Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm, ravaging the Florida Panhandle with 155-mph winds and a brutal storm surge.

In large areas of Mexico Beach, homes were obliterated or reduced to stacks of rubble, aerial video from CNN showed on Thursday.

One objective as recovery got under way was to help people who could be trapped in various areas along the coast, he told a news conference.

Currently, Michael is approximately 395 miles south of Panama City, Florida and around 365 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida.

Michael had left a trail of utility wires on roads, flattened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church.

Among those brought to safety were nine people rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of their home in Panama City - another one of the hardest-hit spots - after their roof collapsed.

"The roof fell in but we lived through it", he said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott called Michael "monstrous storm" and urged residents to listen to officials.

The area is known for its small beach towns, wildlife reserves and the state capital, Tallahassee.

In its latest bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Michael had become "an extremely unsafe category 4 hurricane".

On its current track, the core of Michael is expected to move northeastward across the southeastern US on Wednesday night and Thursday, and then move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday.

The entire Florida Panhandle is under a hurricane warning and a storm surge warning.

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Forecasters warned that Michael could ultimately dump a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in western Cuba, triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountain areas.

AccuWeather forecasters said the storm will likely hit Georgia has a Category 1 storm.

"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient". Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she fears widespread power outages and other problems would follow.

Waves crash on stilt houses along the shore due to Hurricane Michael at Alligator Point in Franklin County, Florida, U.S., October 10, 2018.

D'Mitry Charlton and Ian Johnson are both Bahamian students attending universities in the Florida Panhandle.

"The wind that came through here was surreal".

Hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate their homes and the governor told residents who had not done so to "hunker down and be careful".

An estimated 375,000 people in more than 20 counties were ordered or advised to evacuate.

Hurricane Michael swiftly intensified into a Category 2 over warm Gulf of Mexico waters Tuesday amid fears it would strike Florida on Wednesday as a major hurricane. Wind damage was also evident.

With the storm next entering the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico, which has warm water and favorable atmospheric conditions, "there is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall, " Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist at the Miami-based storm forecasting hub, wrote in an advisory. Only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the so-called Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys were more intense.

Florida has declared a state of emergency, as have Alabama and Georgia.

On Tuesday, Gov Scott said he had activated 2,500 Florida National Guard troops.

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