Hurricane Michael damaged the Florida Panhandle and crossed Georgia overnight with heavy winds. "This is obviously the worst", said Stephanie Palmer, a FEMA firefighter and rescuer from Coral Springs, Florida. Patterson estimated 1,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed in his town of 3,500 people.
"We were pleased that carriers had pre-positioned equipment and were in the process deploying cells on wheels (COWs) and cells on light trucks (COLTs) in order to get wireless service up and running in many locations", Pai said in a statement. "This was my sixth (hurricane), so I thought I was prepared".
There was extensive destruction around Panama City. A year ago, the school welcomed students and families displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
"I felt like the odds are in our favor", Reynolds said. "So far, everybody seems to be very safe".More news: Malaysia to abolish colonial-era Sedition Act, death penalty
Florida is also still shaking off the effects of Hurricane Irma in some places, with several resorts in the Florida Keys only just open again nearly a year after the Category 3 storm ripped through the area in September 2017.
Eight ships from Tampa, Miami and Galveston in Texas had to be re-routed from the path of Michael, but all three ports are operating normally again and each of Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line say passengers for the next cruises will not be affected.
It was still toppling trees with 50-mph (80-kph) winds and bringing life-threatening flash flooding to areas of Georgia and Virginia, still recovering from Hurricane Florence as it marched northeast.
Hurricane Michael has devastated the Florida Panhandle, leaving at least six people dead and nothing more than empty foundations and rubble in some parts of the small coastal towns it crashed through with near-record breaking force. About 359,000 customers in Florida were in the dark early Thursday, according to the state's emergency management agency.More news: SpaceX satellite launch lights up sky, social media
For the big tourist destinations of Panama City Beach, Destin and Fort Walton, it could be months before they are back on an even keel as the hurricane destroyed homes, businesses and resorts, uprooted thousands of trees, and tore down power lines across the region.
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.
Melendez captured the footage during a Facebook Live video, soon after Category 4 Hurricane Michael - packing 155 miles per hour winds - became the third-strongest cyclone to make landfall in USA history.
Michael also disrupted energy operations in the US Gulf of Mexico as it approached land, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 percent and natural gas output by almost one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated.More news: Alonso rues "random decisions" in F1 after Suzuka penalty
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