Hurricane Michael leads to unimaginable destruction: 17 chilling photos

Michael looks likely to provide extra moisture to an incoming fall system late this week

'The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle'.

The final effects of Michael were being felt across parts of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina, where the National Hurricane Center warned of "life-threatening" flash flooding and "strong, possibly damaging winds". "So many families have lost everything", said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, calling it "unimaginable destruction".

And unless we change the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, we should expect hurricanes to intensify more rapidly in the coming decades, the scientific research group Climate Central said. The facility is running on power generators and helicopters have delivered food and water, the state's Department of Children and Families said.

Already, flood waters have swamped hard hit areas. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, is still closed because of debris.

Conditions remain precarious in hard hit areas, especially Mexico Beach, Florida, where the hurricane crashed into it with 155 miles per hour winds and a storm surge of 9 feet.

Entire blocks of homes near the beach were obliterated, reduced to concrete slabs in the sand.

State officials said 285 people in Mexico Beach had defied a mandatory evacuation order ahead of the storm.

Michael also disrupted energy operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico as it approached land, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 percent and natural gas output by almost a third as offshore platforms were evacuated. But emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings.

In the video, a member of the Coast Guard is lowered down to the ground. But the fate of many residents was unknown. The home was found smashed, with no sign of the woman. "Do you think it would have floated away?"

Linda Marquardt, 67, rode out the storm with her husband at their home in Mexico Beach. When their house filled with surging ocean water, they fled upstairs.

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"It was just a freak accident, I never heard of anything like that", her father, Roy Radney said. "A river just started coming down the road. It was very bad, and now there's just nothing left".

"Things, we can replace", he said, speaking on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront".

- Power outages: Roughly a million customers in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and SC lost power.

"Meanwhile, the Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people, mostly from homes damaged along the Florida coastline, and searched for more victims".

Though most homes were still standing, no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around. Roofs were peeled off and homes split open by fallen trees. We thought the windows were going to break at any time. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20 feet high.

There will be no shelters open in Wakulla County, the sheriff's office warned on Facebook, because they are rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour (178 kph).

Even if the storm stays offshore and doesn't directly impact the region, we'll be seeing some soaking rains later this week, partly fueled by Michael. The damage at Bay Medical Sacred Heart included blown-out windows, a cracked exterior wall and a roof collapse in a maintenance building. She said authorities got a call Wednesday evening that the man was trapped but rescue crews were hampered by downed trees and debris blocking roadways. All phone communicaiton was cut off to the complex of almost 1,000 residents and more than 300 staff, leaving emergency radios as their only link out. One of the carport's legs punctured the roof and hit her in the head. A driver in North Carolina also was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle.

Parts of Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area could see up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) of storm surge, while Michael also could dump up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain over some Panhandle communities as it moves inland, forecasters said.

In North Carolina's mountains, drivers also had to be plucked from cars in high water.

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