Former Hurricane Michael heads northeast after trashing Florida

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Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Oct. 11, 2018, devastating the coastal town as it lashed the Florida Panhandle.

Tamiya Waldon looks out at the damage to her neighbourhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., on Wednesday.

The initial flight was smooth, but things got steadily more turbulent as the aircraft got closer and closer to the eye of the storm.

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.

Among those brought to safety were nine people rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of their Panama City home after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said. "The turbulence was astounding, but it was all worth it, because once you make it through the eyewall, you finally make it into the eye".

In terms of damage the most costly year was 2017, when besides the Caribbean several U.S. coastal states were hit by powerful hurricanes that moved slowly and dumped record rainful for days.

Long, the head of FEMA, said many Florida buildings were not built to withstand a storm above the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

As of Thursday morning, more than 500,000 customers still don't have their electricity restored across Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Officials reported at least one storm-related fatality.

The hurricane made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, at around 2pm on Wednesday, according to the NHC.

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Hurricane Michael is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the USA, and the proof is strewn across miles of Florida's coastline: Roofs and awnings peeled from buildings, pieces of homes scattered amid snapped trees and downed power lines, chunks of beaches washed away.

Forecasters warned parts of Florida could experience storm surges of up to 14ft (4m) and flash floods from up to 30cm of rain.

By early Thursday, the ferocious storm's winds had slowed to 50 miles per hour as it crossed Georgia.

Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the USA mainland, weakened overnight to a tropical storm and pushed northeast, bringing drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

Michael maintained hurricane force for 12 hours and 200 miles as it moved over Florida and Georgia.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Michael to a tropical storm early Thursday, saying its maximum winds had dropped below the threshold for a hurricane.

Sgt. Angela Hightower did not identify the man but said he had been found at the home in Greensboro around 6 p.m.

Michael was forecast to move inland over the Panhandle on Wednesday afternoon, and across southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia on Wednesday night.

The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee issued a dramatic appeal for people to comply with evacuation orders.

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