Thirty kilometres south of Mexico Beach, floodwaters were more than 2.1m deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane center chief Ken Graham said.
An AccuWeather meteorologist captured Hurricane Michael's intense eye wall on the east side of Panama City Beach.
Dan Eades and his family, from Mercer County, say they planned their week around a vacation getaway in Destin, Florida, but once Hurricane Michael started to gain strength he started taking notice.
"We are attempting to get to the home".
The moment was captured on ABC News' live video, and it was also widely shared on social media, where many questioned the fate of the four-legged storm victims.
Hurricane Michael, the first Category 4 or stronger hurricane to ever hit the Florida Panhandle, made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, on Wednesday, with a deadly storm surge amid maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour and a minimum pressure of 919 millibars.
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With reduced winds of 50mph, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Michael has moved north-east crossing Georgia and is closing in on Greensboro, North Carolina. The governor told residents that if they have not already done so it was now too late.
The number of people in emergency shelters was expected to swell to 20,000 across five states by Friday, said Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross.
Almost 950,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Alabama, the Carolinas, and Georgia on October 11. Forecasters said it will unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.
"So many lives have been changed forever", he said. The hospital was evacuating 130 patients as it faced challenges of running on generators after the storm knocked out power, ripped off part of its roof and smashed windows, a spokesman for the hospital's owner HCA Healthcare said in an email.
Hours ahead of landfall, seawater was already lapping over the docks at Massalina Bayou near downtown Panama City, and knee-deep water was rising against buildings in St. Marks, which sits on an inlet south of Tallahassee, Florida's capital. The home of the 325th Fighter Wing and some 600 military families appeared squarely targeted for the worst of the storm's fury, and leaders declared HURCON 1 status, ordering out all but essential personnel. Forecasters predicted 9 to 14 feet of water at Tyndall.
Hurricane Michael rapidly intensified overnight and volunteer evacuations quickly turned into mandatory evacuations by Monday night. "We are ready for that part", Young said.
Hargan, a bartender at a riverfront restaurant, feared he would lose his home and his job to the storm.