Long said several hospitals in the Panhandle were hit by the hurricane and patients had to be evacuated.
In large areas of Mexico Beach, homes were obliterated or reduced to stacks of rubble, aerial video from CNN showed on Thursday.
It's powerful 155mph winds ripped through the coast, flattening homes, flooding roads and leaving more than 400,000 without power. This made the storm the third-most powerful to ever hit the United States mainland.
'Continuous lightning is present on the forward edge of the eyewall, and lightning detection on the rear edge rotate with specific sections of the eye'.
Hurricane Michael earlier made landfall just northwest of Mexico Beach, Florida. Beachfront structures could be seen collapsing and metal roofing materials were blown away amid the heavy rain. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 miles per hour Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods.
The center of Tropical Storm Michael is expected to barely miss Charlotte on Thursday as it moves from SC toward Raleigh, bringing heavy rain that could cause flash flooding and possibly damaging winds. About 1,200 people died, according to the National Weather Service.
Diane Farris, 57, and her son walked to a high school-turned-shelter near their home in Panama City to find about 1,100 people crammed into a space meant for about half as many.
A month after Hurricane Florence's epic deluge, SC officials are more concerned about tornadoes than flooding from Michael.
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Hurricane Michael Grows Stronger, Expected To Reach Category 4
- Hurricane Michael strengthened to a Category 2 storm by Tuesday morning as continues to move north in the Gulf of Mexico. He said: "We don't know if it's going to wipe out our house or not". "That's the criticality of following directions".
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Downed powerlines are seen after hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida.
"It feels like a nightmare", Mexico Beach Councilwoman Linda Albrecht said of the catastrophic damage in her town.
- Staying safe: almost 6,700 people took refuge in 54 shelters in Florida.
A Hurricane Warning is still in place in coastal Bay County, Florida. Then the remains of the storm will rapidly travel across the ocean toward Ireland. In recorded history, a storm of this intensity has never happened in the Florida Panhandle. Expect wind gusts of 35-50 miles per hour but higher in severe weather.
The hurricane, the fiercest to hit Florida in 80 years, pummeled communities across the Panhandle and turned streets into roof-high waterways.
U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for all of Florida, freeing federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.
Michael was a meteorological brute that sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore.
The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which left dozens dead and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage last month. More than 40,000 people lost power across the state.
Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires.