At least two people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been left without power across the Southeastern U.S. as Hurricane Michael weakens to a tropical storm over Georgia authorities said Thursday.
Gov. Rick Scott said an aggressive search-and-rescue operation was currently underway in the areas damaged by the Category 4 storm Thursday after entire neighborhoods were left decimated by the hurricane force winds and flooding.
The Gadsden County Sheriff's Office said a man in Greensboro, Florida was killed Wednesday after a tree crashed down on his home there. An 11-year-old girl in Georgia was also killed Wednesday afternoon after a tree fell onto her home in southwest Georgia WMAT-TV reported. Authorities say they expect the death toll to rise as local officials and residents assess the damage from the storm.
Much of the coast of the Florida Panhandle, including Panama City, FL and Mexico Beach where the hurricane made landfall, has been left in ruins. Two hospitals in Panama City were damaged by the storm More than 800,000 customers are currently without power in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, according to utilities in those states. Some counties in Florida, including Franklin and Leon, completely lost power.
Gov. Scott asked residents to stay home, while crews were out on the roads clearing debris and working to restore power to neighborhoods.
While Michael may have weakened, it isn't done with the Southeast just yet. The National Hurricane Center said tropical storm force winds and the threat of flooding and tornados would continue over Georgia and the storm-weary Carolinas today. Officials say heavy rainfall from Michael could produce life-threatening flash flooding over some parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia.
A tropical storm warning remains in effect for parts of the southeast U.S. coast from Georgia to North Carolina.