Hurricane Michael Death Toll Rises as Destruction is Surveyed in Florida & Georgia

Hurricane Michael, the most powerful storm to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, reached the Carolinas after ripping through Florida and Georgia, obliterating homes and submerging entire neighborhoods, and killing at least six people, including an 11-year-old girl in Georgia.

The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle early Wednesday afternoon, making landfall as a powerful Category 4 storm, and leaving behind a trail of complete devastation, with Florida Gov. Rick Scott calling Hurricane Michael “the worst storm that area has ever seen.”

Scott said the Panhandle woke up to “unimaginable destruction.”

“So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything,” Scott said.

The storm roared through to southwest Georgia, and on Thursday, moved into North and South Carolina, ABC News reports. Although Hurricane Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm, it still brought flash flooding to the Carolinas, states that are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Florence.

“The ragged but raging remains of Hurricane Michael” were in North Carolina on Thursday morning, the state's governor, Roy Cooper, said.

“For North Carolina, Michael isn’t as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert,” Cooper said.

Six inches of rain has drenched the state, and according to Cooper, more is expected. Most of the state is under flash flood warning, as well as tornado watches.

The full extent of Hurricane Michael’s fury slowly came into focus, with homes turned into piles of splintered wood or completely blown away from their foundations. Roofs were torn off of buildings, and boats had merely been tossed aside in the hurricane’s wrath.

ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee said the ruins in Mexico Beach, which saw some of the most devastating damage, were “eerily reminiscent to the scene I saw in Gulfport [Louisiana] in 2005,” after Hurricane Katrina.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted he was hearing “stunning” reports on Hurricane Michael’s damage, including that “Mexico Beach is gone” and the “damage in Panama City is catastrophic.”

“It will take a long time to recover from this. We will do everything we can to make sure the federal government does it’s part,” Rubio tweeted. “But I will confess that my biggest fear that this part of Florida, with its unique & genuine characteristics, will never be the same.”

A 38-year-old man was killed when a tree fell onto his car while he was driving on Old Mocksville Highway near Statesville, Director of the Iredell County Director of Fire Services & Emergency Management, Kent Greene, told ABC News. According to The Associated Press, an 11-year-old girl was killed in Georgia when a carport crashed into her home and struck her in the head.

Hurricane Michael has left over 900,000 homes and businesses without power across Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina.

According to AP, more than 30,000 workers from 24 states have been mobilized to restore power.

An estimated 325,000 residents in the storm’s path were told to evacuate their homes by local authorities, but officials said only 6,000 people came to the 80 shelters in place across Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. Officials were concerned that the storm’s fast-moving nature did not provide ample time for residents to evacuate.

Cleanup and rescues were already underway Thursday, but Scott encouraged residents to stay off of the roads at this time.

“The worst thing you can do now is act foolishly” by putting yourself in danger or hindering law enforcement from rescuing individuals, Scott said at a news conference.

Rescue crews, including 450 Florida Highway Patrol officers, drove through the night to assist with the rescue effort.

“During disasters, Floridians take care of each other,” Scott said. “We will recover.”

President Donald Trump has said he is working closely with the governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama and Georgia to provide federal support and resources.

“I’ll be traveling to Florida very, very shortly, and I just want to wish them all the best. Godspeed,” Trump said.