Hurricane Michael is still rolling across the Southeast after it hit and devastated Florida and parts of Georgia, despite coming down to a tropical storm.
At least seven people were reported to be dead, one of whom is an 11-year-old girl.
“This morning, Florida’s Gulf Coast and Panhandle and the Big Bend are waking up to unimaginable destruction,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said. “So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything. … This hurricane was an absolute monster.”
Scott urged people to stay off the roads to ensure their safety and give first responders the space they need to carry out recovery efforts following the storm. While restoring power could take days, Scott explained that crews were already at work and reminded residents to never touch a downed power line.
“If you are using a generator, it needs to be at least 15 feet from your home and away from all doors and windows,” Scott tweeted. “Please stay safe! Restoring power as quickly as possible is a top priority.”
The storm made landfall on Wednesday afternoon, moving quickly through Florida and into southeastern Alabama and southwest Georgia around 5 p.m. EDT, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). By Thursday morning, the storm had weakened to a tropical storm as it made its way over South Carolina.
As Michael continued its path up the East Coast, more than 350,000 people in Florida were left in darkness, their power knocked out by the extreme conditions of the storm. In Georgia, more than 182,000 customers were still without power on Thursday morning. Outages also spanned 10 counties in Alabama, leaving more than 50,000 people without electricity.
Hurricane Michael is the third strongest storm recorded in the history of the U.S. and was classified as Category 4 colossus with sustained winds of 155 mph.