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"The only way I can explain it, through my eyeballs, is a Third World country war zone".

Hurricane Michael was a Category 4 storm with 155 miles per hour winds when it made landfall at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday near Mexico Beach on Florida's Panhandle. "She's my baby", a distraught O'Brien said, her face wet with tears. "Somebody needs to come up and shake you and wake you up".

The death toll was revised to 2,975 fatalities, either in the storm itself or later as the health care and utilities grids failed.

One of the hardest-hit spots was Mexico Beach, where Michael crashed ashore Wednesday as a Category 4 monster with 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds.

As of Thursday, much of the Southeast U.S. was still being hammered by "heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes, soaking areas swamped by epic flooding last month from Hurricane Florence", according to The AP.

The National Hurricane Center reported at 1 p.m. that the eyewall of Category 4 Hurricane Michael was coming ashore in an area between St. Vincent Island and Panama City along the Florida Panhandle.

Hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate their homes and the governor told residents who had not done so to "hunker down and be careful".

Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said early evacuation efforts in the area were slow. No one has heard from them since Wednesday afternoon.

"We haven't seen her since the tree hit the den".

They said it was still not clear how many people stayed put and would need to be rescued.

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In Mexico Beach, population 1,000, the storm shattered homes, leaving floating piles of lumber.

An 11-year-old girl was killed in Seminole County, Georgia.

Smith, in Gadsden County, said the situation was risky even for emergency personnel. Reaching the worst-hit areas wasn't easy.

McNamara said their are more than 100 volunteers at the Tallahassee headquarters - some based in Florida- others from across the country, all working to help.

The hurricane will likely devastate Florida's Panhandle communities.

"It feels like you don't know when the next tree is going to fall on top of you because it's blowing so ferociously", said Port St Joe Mayor Bo Patterson. Metal sheets flew past them as they were reporting live.

"My home was built in 1962 (and) is the only one with a solid roof left", Golding said. "I asked her to keep her hands on it today, and she did".

Without power, the city was plunged into darkness at nightfall and its flooded streets were mostly silent and devoid of people or traffic.

Michael isn't the only storm gaining strength in the tropics. According to the US Energy Information Administration. There's evidence of higher sea surface temperature and atmospheric moisture, experts say. It looks more like the popular spring break spot is getting bombed than hit by a storm.

This is preferred by Klotzbach, who explains that it is more precise for historical comparisons because it is measured precisely by an airplane flying in the middle of the storm's eye, whereas "wind is going to be different everywhere along the hurricane". "So many lives have been changed forever".