In storm-ravaged Mexico Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast, residents were allowed to return home for the first time Wednesday, finding pieces of their lives scattered across the sand and a community alter
Five days after the hurricane slammed into the Florida Panhandle, people are struggling to locate friends and loved ones who haven't been heard from.
In Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged.
About 20 residents have been rescued and a family of four was evacuated, as have pets left behind by their owners.
Rescue teams were using sniffer dogs in Mexico Beach on Friday to search for victims who may be buried under the rubble in the debris-strewn community.
State officials said that by one count, 285 people in Mexico Beach defied mandatory evacuation orders and stayed behind. Whether any of them got out at some point was unclear.
Images captured by Associated Press journalists show the devastation left in Hurricane Michael's wake.
At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years.
Here are some figures which illustrate the power of Michael on the continental United States and which "took forecasters by surprise".
Several hours after the hurricane made landfall, the eye of the storm had moved out of the Panhandle and was just west of Albany, Georgia, the NHC said.
Hurricane Michael was barely a hurricane Tuesday morning, with winds of 90 mph. A little over a day later, it had transformed into a monster.
At 8 a.m, Michael's eye was about 90 miles (145 kilometres) from Panama City and Apalachicola, moving relatively fast at 13 mph (21 kph).
Michael packed winds of 120 miles per hour (195 kilometers per hour) as it aimed for the Florida Panhandle, the finger-shaped strip of land on the Gulf of Mexico.
Beach dwellers rushed to board up their homes and sandbag their properties against the fast-moving hurricane, which was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday.
By late Monday, Michael's top sustained winds had risen some to 90 mph (144 kph) as it headed north at 12 mph (19 kph).