An 11-year-old girl in Georgia died when Michael's winds dropped debris through the roof of her grandparents' home.
Families living along the Panhandle are now faced with a struggle to survive in a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centres.
And unless the rate of greenhouse gas emissions changes, hurricanes are expected to intensify more rapidly in the coming decades, the scientific research group Climate Central said.
"Hope is that even if the storm does come, even if I lose my vehicle, my house, my family, even if I lose my life, blessed be God", he said.
Some fear the toll can only rise as rescue teams get around storm debris blocking roads and reach isolated areas. An 80-mile (130-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, was closed.
Michael has strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 120 miles-per-hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The hurricane hit the Panhandle in the northwest part of the state early Wednesday afternoon, demolishing homes and submerging entire neighborhoods. Rows and rows of other homes were turned into piles of splintered lumber or were crumpled and slumped at odd angles. Video from a drone revealed widespread devastation across the town of about 1,000 people. It developed into a hurricane on Monday, and by today, more than 140,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders.
More than a million people are without electricity, and areas along the Gulf Coast and elsewhere report severe outages of cellphone service and other communications.
Virginia authorities are providing more details about the death of a firefighter who was responding to a crash north of Richmond as Michael lashed the state.
National Guard troops made their way into the ground-zero town and found 20 survivors Wednesday night, and more rescue crews arrived Thursday.
"There's nothing left here any more", he said of the town.
Hurricane Michael takes aim at Florida after fatal flooding in Central America
Rick Scott on Monday called Hurricane Michael a "monstrous" and potentially "deadly" storm that is barreling toward Florida. Tropical Storm Leslie could once again redevelop into a hurricane as it spins in the open Atlantic.
Mishelle McPherson climbs over rubble as she searches for her friend in Mexico Beach, Fla. "You can not tell where he stopped harvest and where the rest of it was being harvested by the storm". "Do you think it would have floated away?"
"Oooooh wow, our new house", she said, her voice shaking. When their house filled with surging ocean water, they fled upstairs. "All of my furniture was floating", she said.
Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press conference this morning that the state's problems following Hurricane Florence could be compounded by Michael because some rivers are still elevated. "It was very bad, and now there's just nothing left".
"I'm just still in shock. You want to check on things and begin the recovery process", Scott said. "We will do everything we can to make sure the federal government does it's part", the senator tweeted.
About 1.5 million homes and businesses were without power from Florida to Virginia early on Friday, according to utility companies.
At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental United States in over 50 years, and it wasn't done yet: Though reduced to a tropical storm, it brought flash flooding to North Carolina and Virginia, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence. Nine people had to be rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of a home in hard-hit Panama City after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said.
Standing in what was once the parish hall of St. Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, the Rev. Luke Farabaugh spoke of the importance of having gratitude amid the devastation.
Downed power lines lay almost everywhere.
The hurricane peeled off the roof of his townhouse and blew out the windows, sending water pouring in.
"We had houses that were on one side of the street and now they're on the other", said Mayor Bo Patterson, who watched trees fly by his window as he rode out the storm in his home seven blocks from the beach.
Hundreds of residents were rescued on Thursday from cars, apartments and homes flooded by rushing water. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20 feet high.
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