At least 5 dead in Hurricane Michael

Famous for staying open during natural disasters Waffle House closes 21 restaurants

Mr Ken Graham, director of the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre, said the hurricane was "unfortunately, a historical and incredibly risky and life-threatening situation". An estimated 6,000 people evacuated to emergency shelters, mostly in Florida, and that number was expected to swell to 20,000 across five states by week's end, said Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross.

"We need to restore basic utilities, clear our roads of trees and power lines, and assess the structural integrity of our buildings". An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along the Panhandle, was closed.

As reported by The Weather Channel, the hurricane-turned-tropical-storm continues to travel up the East Coast with wind speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. In a beach townhome about 1,000 people, entire blocks of homes have been reduced to nothing but concrete slabs in the sand or piles of splintered lumber. By one count, state officials said, 285 people in Mexico Beach defied mandatory evacuation orders and stayed behind. Only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the so-called Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys were more intense. "So we're just trying to give people hope at this point".

Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for the elderly mother of a friend. The home was found smashed, with no sign of the woman.

'Do you think her body would be here?' "Do you think it would have floated away?" she asked.

Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Mexico Beach was "ground zero" for damage. When the house filled with storm surge water, they fled upstairs.

"It was just a freak accident, I never heard of anything like that", her father, Roy Radney said. "It was bad, and now there's just nothing left". In the meantime, residents are taking stock of the damage and looking for their neighbors.

"We are going to be aggressive with recovery and response over the coming days and will do everything we can to assist our communities that have seen impacts from this devastating storm", he said.

"It's like a bomb went off", Mr. Scott said as he toured the town of 1,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico.

Governor Scott urged residents not to return until the authorities "make sure things are safe", given the danger from power lines and other debris.

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The Florida crossing, he continued to race in Alabama and Georgia, then to SC, and the North.

Aerial footage shows coastal cities in Florida completely wiped out. Downed power lines lay almost everywhere.

Roofs had been lifted from houses while others were split open by fallen trees.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows.

Gregg Ebersole trekked to the Panama City Marina from his devastated neighborhood on Thursday morning to find a miraculous sight: Nestled amid the twisted metal on the damaged dock was his boat, just as he had left it on a rack.

Michael left much of the Florida panhandle coast in ruins, including Panama City, which was forced to evacuate hundreds of patients from its two hospitals, including intensive care patients.

At Jinks Middle School in Panama City, the storm tore off part of the gym roof and one wall, leaving the wooden floor covered in water. No patients were hurt, the hospital said.

A man died in Greensboro, Florida, northwest of Tallahassee, after a tree crashed down on his home late on Wednesday afternoon, local law enforcement officials confirmed. Roads in Panama City were virtually impassable and trees, satellite dishes, and traffic lights lay in the streets. The NHC forecasts up to 7 inches for north-central North Carolina, into south-central to southeast Virginia.

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

It was the worst storm to hit the region since the mid-1800s and the first Category 4 hurricane to ever come ashore there on record. The storm is moving towards the northeast at about 23 miles per hour.

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