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Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the continental United States, slammed into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, unleashing a trail of destruction across 321km that splintered houses, peeled off roofs and stirred up a terrifying surge of seawater that submerged entire neighbourhoods and sent boats careening down city streets. Dazed Florida residents picked through the wreckage left by Hurricane Michael on Thursday after the near-record-force storm tore apart coastal towns and was blamed for seven deaths.

Michael is now moving northwards at 12mph.

"Today is the day". The base had been evacuated before the storm and no injuries were reported.

"This is all Mexico Beach", she added.

At an election rally in Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, Trump offered his "thoughts and prayers" to those in the path of the storm and said he would visit Florida soon. She said she moved to the popular seaside destination, about 20 miles east of Panama City Beach, less than three months ago.

"This morning, Florida's Gulf Coast and Panhandle and the Big Bend are waking up to unimaginable destruction", Gov. Rick Scott said.

- Staying safe: almost 6,700 people took refuge in 54 shelters in Florida. Meanwhile 350 Florida Highway Patrol troopers have been dispatched to assist with storm preparations.

The governor activated 750 National Guardsmen for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before.

"It's total devastation - no power, no water, no communication", she said. Boats once docked in the canal have been pushed far up onto the land, and much of what would normally be on land floats in the canal.

"He is committed to making every federal resource available to help the recovery", Scott said.

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Virginia declared a state of emergency in advance of the storm.

The Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people before and after the hurricane's landfall, mostly from coastal homes. "You couldn't see anything anywhere".

The latest Area Forecast Discussion for Jacksonville Courtesy of the National Weather Service. Local news station 10News WTSP has several cameras up and running that show off the Tampa Bay area, including a few with radar maps. Forecasters said it would unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.

Recent rapid hurricane intensification events in the Atlantic basin.

Tallahassee International Airport ‏is suspending commercial flight activity as 12:01 a.m. ET on Wednesday but expects to resume activity on Thursday.

In North Carolina's mountains, motorists had to be rescued from cars trapped by high water. Michael is expected to rain 4 to 7 in. from eastern to southern mid-Atlantic Georgia.

The Hurricane has also left pets stranded throughout the town because many people were unable to take them when they evacuated. And then there was the life-threatening storm surge to deal with. NPR's Emily Sullivan reports state and local governments are preparing for torrential downpours.

Tyndall Air Force Base took a "direct hit" from Michael's Category 4 hurricane winds of up to 155 miles per hour, which caused significant structural damage and left the runway's use still in question, Air Force officials said in a statement. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine. "My father is responsible for all of the seafood that's in our area, literally millions and millions of dollars of seafood, and he feels compelled to stay to make sure those seafood houses are back up and running as soon as the storm passes", she said. When the house filled with storm surge water, they fled upstairs.

"Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area", Nelson said on CNN. He spoke to WUFT. "That's where you're going to see the extreme, extreme devastation".

Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm early yesterday as it reached south-central Georgia, but it still brought heavy rain, blustery winds and the warning of possible spin-off tornadoes.