'PANAMA CITY - Hurricane Michael claimed its first life after roaring ashore in Florida on Wednesday (Oct 10), flooding homes and streets and toppling trees and power lines in the Gulf of Mexico beachfront area where it made landfall as a raging Category 4 storm.
Florida officials said Michael, packing winds of 250 kmph, was the most powerful storm to hit the state's northern Panhandle area in more than a century.
Michael had weakened to a Category 1 after making landfall, but that still left it an extremely dangerous storm.
Pictures and video from Mexico Beach, a community of about 1,000 people where Michael made landfall around 1:00 pm Eastern time, showed scenes of devastation, with houses floating in flooded streets, some ripped from their foundations and missing roofs.
Roads were filled with piles of floating debris.
After being battered for nearly 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.
"Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in a century," Governor Rick Scott said.
It is the fiercest storm to hit Florida in a quarter century and the third-most powerful ever to strike the US mainland, roared into the state's Gulf coast on Wednesday (Oct 10) with tree-snapping winds, towering waves and torrential rains.