Before and after images show Michael's devastation along Florida panhandle

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NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite provided a visible image of the new named storm.

Florida governor Rick Scott called Michael a "monstrous hurricane" with devastating potential from high winds, storm surge and heavy rains.

Michael was just the fourth major hurricane - Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale - to crash ashore on the Florida Panhandle since 1950, joining Eloise (1975), Opal (1995) and Dennis (2005).

By late Thursday afternoon and into the evening Tropical Storm Michael was hitting North Carolina hard with winds and flooding rains, which extended into Virginia toward Washington, D.C.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management tweeted "Virginia storm updates as of 7 a.m today".

Victims included an 11-year-old girl killed in Seminole County, Georgia, when a metal carport crashed through a roof, hitting her head.

It is the first time on record that a hurricane of this intensity had hit the Florida panhandle. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle.

In Virginia, Lt. Brad Clark, a Hanover County firefighter, was killed while helping at the scene of a vehicle crash Thursday, according to Hanover Fire-EMS and Virginia State Police.

A Virginia man was found dead after getting swept away from his auto in Pittsylvania County, state police said Friday. Following Hurricane Irma a year ago, 14 people died when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning. Its largest city is Pensacola, with a population approaching half a million.

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Phone service to the most damaged areas was down, leaving survivors no way to contact anxious relatives, so a CNN reporter on the air read off several names of residents he had spoken with, to let concerned parties know they were safe.

"All of my furniture was floating", said Linda Marquardt, 67, who rode out Hurricane Michael with her husband at their home in Mexico Beach.

"It was just a freak accident, I never heard of anything like that", said her father, Roy Radney. With trees down, and power and cell service out, he could not safely evacuate. There are now empty spots where dozens of homes are no longer standing.

Panama City, a popular spring break retreat, and Mexico Beach, another upscale coastline spot, were almost unrecognizable in Michael's wake.

Stephanie Palmer and Diego Ortiz with Urban Search and Rescue Florida Task Force 2 raise an American flag in the heavily damaged city of Mexico Beach on Thursday.

"We had houses that were on one side of the street and now they're on the other", said Mayor Bo Patterson. "But I will confess that my biggest fear that this part of Florida, with its unique & genuine characteristics, will never be the same".

Colleen Swab, her mother and her young daughter took shelter in a closet in Panama City Beach, Florida. The whole area. they're going to tear down these houses and rebuild it. "It's just how do we get together, how do we recover?" The storm is forecast to be a Category 4 storm at landfall on Wednesday, forecasters said.

The Sheriff's Office encouraged residents to stay indoors and off the roads.

"I think you're going to see it climb", FEMA Administrator Brock Long said of the death count at a news conference.

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Among those helping are about 450 Florida Highway Patrol officers, many of whom drove through the night to the Panhandle to help with rescues. "Take care of them", he said.

Tyndall Air Force Base, home to the F-22 stealth fighter, suffered extensive damage, according to aerial photos of the coastal facility.

Hundreds of thousands of people remain without electricity in Florida, Georgia and Virginia, and officials say it could be weeks before power is fully restored.

More than 370,000 people in florida were ordered to evacuate but officials believe many ignored the warning. Democrats say that's still not enough time, since the storm could cause internet outages for people registering online.

Michael has 110 miles per hour sustained winds.

Then, it will "move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday, and move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday", the NHC said.

Mr Rick Scott told a news conference on Tuesday: "Hurricane Michael is a monster storm and it keeps getting more risky".

"We have thousands of people lined up".

As the hurricane neared, the Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese posted a prayer to St. Michael on its website. "All of Pennsylvania and America sends its unwavering love and support".

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"You want to check on things, and begin the recovery process", Scott said. "God speed", Trump added.

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