Widespread catastrophic damage in Florida — WHAT'S HAPPENING

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Residents of this Florida panhandle city were busy Monday readying themselves for Hurricane Michael, which is predicted to make landfall somewhere around Panama City.

Hurricane Michael formed on October 2, becoming more and more organised before being named as Tropical Storm Michael on October 7.

The storm made landfall on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. The intense Category 4 hurricane was packing maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour when it crashed ashore near Mexico Beach, a lightly populated tourist town about midway along the Panhandle. What used to be a gorgeous beachfront city now looks like an apocalyptic mess. "That's probably ground zero".

At least two deaths were blamed on the extreme storm front - the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental USA in more than 50 years.

Five people have died in Florida: Fatalities include a child in Seminole County and a man in Gadsen County who died after a tree fell on a home near Greensboro. Many crops, such as vegetables and cotton, may also be affected. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10 - the main east-west route along the Panhandle - was closed.

More than 830,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Alabama and Georgia early Thursday.

Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles from the center.

Catastrophic scenes have emerged across the Florida Panhandle.

"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient. (I) know that I felt I've been through worse growing up in The Bahamas".

"Our lives are gone here".

"It's very hard to explain", said Jason Gunderson, a member of the Cajun Navy rescue group. "As long as I have her, this is everything that matters to me in world".

What is the death toll?

Long said several hospitals in the Panhandle were hit by the hurricane and patients had to be evacuated. Tornadoes, risky winds and more flooding are possible in numerous same areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

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Some of the numbers for hurricanes Florence and Michael are still up in the air, but here is what's estimated so far.

The students and staff at Jinks Middle School have dealt with disaster before.

After being battered for almost three hours by strong winds and heavy rains, roads in Panama City were virtually impassable and trees, satellite dishes and traffic lights lay in the streets.

The entire county has no power, and the local electric company said they have ordered 300 utility poles to fix downed power lines. "It's just how do we get together, how do we recover?" We are also working with federal, state and local officials to provide public shelter and accommodate those evacuating from other states.

"Base leaders do not yet have an estimate of when Tyndall AFB will reopen", base officials posted on Facebook. Debris is strewn across miles of Florida's coastline: Roofs and awnings peeled back from buildings, pieces of homes scattered amid snapped trees and downed power lines, chunks of beaches washed away.

"Today it is about life and safety, " Gillum said. No one has heard from them since Wednesday afternoon. Many filled sandbags and boarded up homes and lined up to buy gas and groceries before leaving town. A neighbor told McCall that all the docks in the area were destroyed and many people are stuck in their homes as the roads have been blocked with debris.

"I have had employees going to the communities where our kids live, going door to door and checking", Principal Britt Smith by phone.

Smith, in Gadsden County, said the situation was unsafe even for emergency personnel. Now, a enormous tree is lying through their store and they're not sure what to do next.

He and his partner Cheri Papineau, 50, pushed on their door for an hour to stop the storm surge bursting in as their four dogs sat on top of a bed floating in their home. "Last night they were about 13-15' swells".

While we might not get more storms in a warmer climate, most studies show storms will get stronger and produce more rain.

A storm surge watch is in effect for Anclote River in Florida to Anna Maria Island in Florida, including Tampa Bay.

Florida Governor Rick Scott told the Weather Channel the damage from Panama City down to Mexico Beach was "way worse than anybody ever anticipated".

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