At least six deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental US in over 50 years, and it wasn't done yet.

Buildings damaged by Hurricane Michael are seen in Panama City, Florida, US, October 11, 2018.
Buildings damaged by Hurricane Michael are seen in Panama City, Florida, US, October 11, 2018. (Reuters)

Search and rescue teams combed through shattered US communities on Thursday looking for victims of Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 monster storm which carved out a swathe of destruction in the Florida Panhandle, killing at least six in three states.

In Mexico Beach, a seafront town where the hurricane made landfall, houses had been razed by storm surge, boats had been tossed into yards and the streets were littered with trees and power lines.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said the storm had caused "unbelievable devastation" and the priority for the moment was looking for survivors among residents who failed to heed orders to evacuate.

"I'm very concerned about our citizens that didn't evacuate and I just hope that, you know, we don't have much loss of life," Scott told ABC.

The US Army said more than 2,000 Florida National Guard soldiers were working on the recovery operations.

There have been six confirmed storm-related deaths so far – four in Florida's Gadsden County, one in Georgia, and one in North Carolina.

President Donald Trump pledged to help storm victims.

"Our hearts are with the thousands who have sustained property damage, in many cases entirely wiped out," Trump said.
"We will not rest or waver until the job is done and the recovery is complete."

TRT World's Sally Ayhan has more details.

Broken buildings with no power

Florida officials said more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Florida and Governor Scott said nearly 20,000 utility workers had been deployed to restore power.

The hurricane damaged hospitals and nursing homes in the Panama City area, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients. 

The damage at Bay Medical Sacred Heart hospital included blown-out windows, a cracked exterior wall and a roof collapse in a maintenance building. No patients were hurt, the hospital said.

The state mental hospital in Chattahoochee, which has a section for the criminally insane, was cut off by land, and food and supplies were being flown in, authorities said.

Along the 321-kilometre Panhandle, Michael washed away white-sand beaches, hammered military bases and destroyed coastal communities, stripping trees to stalks, shredding roofs, toppling trucks and pushing boats into buildings.

Authorities said a falling tree killed a man outside Tallahassee, Florida, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia was killed when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home. One of the carport's legs punctured the roof and hit her in the head.

An Associated Press team drove for miles and encountered extensive destruction around Panama City. Though most homes were still standing, no property was left undamaged.

Downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled away and sent airborne. Aluminium siding was shredded to ribbons. Homes were split open by fallen trees.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20 feet high.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in. But it moved fast and intensified quickly, and emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the US mainland, behind the unnamed Labour Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies