Florida counting cost as Hurricane Michael causes huge devastation

A Panama City Beach resident assessing the damage this morning

A Panama City Beach resident assessing the damage this morning Credit 2018 Getty Images Joe Raedle

The hurricane, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the USA mainland, left at least two people dead. "It was so scary", said retiree Tom Garcia (60), who was trapped inside his Mexico Beach home as water poured in to waist height.

Almost 950,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Alabama, the Carolinas and Georgia on Thursday.

Melendez captured the footage during a Facebook Live video, soon after Category 4 Hurricane Michael - packing 155 miles per hour winds - became the third-strongest cyclone to make landfall in US history.

11-year-old Sarah Radney, identified by a coroner Thursday, was killed when a portable carport fell on her home in Seminole County, which is in the extreme southwest corner of Georgia.

Since Tropical Storm Michael crossed into Virginia, the Virginia State Police have responded to dozens of calls for traffic crashes, stranded vehicles, downed trees, debris in the roadway and flooded highways.

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Department of Emergency Management spokesman Jeff Caldwell told The Associated Press that four people drowned: three in the western part of the state and a fourth in central Virginia.

The scenes were familiar across communities in Florida and Georgia as trees were uprooted and cracked like toothpicks, buildings with roofs peeled off and homes flattened into an unrecognizable landscape.

Strong winds brought down trees and electricity lines leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without power.

Dominion Energy also confirmed that 120 schools had lost power, many local.

With a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, a measure of a hurricane's force, Michael was the third strongest storm on record to hit the continental United States, behind only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.

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