Search teams fan out to reach Hurricane Michael’s victims

Storm surged of nearly 2 metres were recorded in Florida

"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.

There have been at least two reported deaths in the US since Michael made landfall along the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane.

Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Florida Panhandle to reach trapped people in Michael's wake Thursday after the third-most powerful hurricane on record to hit the continental US carved a path of destruction across the Southeast.

Thousands of home have been destroyed from Panama City to Mexico Beach along the Panhandle.

- FOX 5 Atlanta along with Publix and the American Red Cross have activated the CAREFORCE to help those impacted by Hurricane Michael in their time of need.

The area is known for its small coastal towns and wildlife reserves.

As the storm heads over North Carolina and Virginia, heavy rain is forecast with up to nine inches of rain forecast for those two states.

The two people killed in the storm were a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said.

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Mr Long said several hospitals in the Panhandle were hit by the hurricane and patients had to be evacuated.

Nearly 1.2 million homes and businesses were without power from Florida to Virginia on Thursday because of the storm. "It destroyed everything", Jason Gunderson, a member of a group of rescue workers that calls itself the Cajun Navy, told CNN early on Thursday from Callaway, a suburb of Panama City.

But many people living in counties farther east in North Central Florida were spared.

Many homes were ripped apart or washed away altogether in Mexico Beach, the town of 1,000 where the hurricane came ashore. Wind damage was also evident.

Here, boats docked in Panama City, Fla., are seen in a pile of rubble after Michael passed through the downtown area on Wednesday.

At the time, its maximum sustained wind speeds were measuring around 155 miles per hour, making it the strongest hurricane on record to directly hit that part of The Sunshine State. "I know that there's a lot of bad stuff that happened out there on the Panhandle, but I think that we were very fortunate here", Lake City resident Tyler Flanagan said.

Michael was also top of mind for President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. Even before landfall, the hurricane disrupted energy operations in the Gulf, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 per cent and natural gas output by almost one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated before the storm hit.

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