Images trickle out of Michael's vast devastation

Florida beach town devastated by Hurricane Michael

On Thursday morning, people were starting to get out and assess the damage from Michael, which is being blamed for at least two deaths as it moves over the Southeast.

River and street flooding, fallen trees and the threat of tornadoes began spreading into central North Carolina on Thursday, prompting the state's governor to urge people to avoid travel until Tropical Storm Michael clears the region tonight or tomorrow.

Residents and officials were taking stock of the damage on Thursday.

Florida governor Rick Scott had warned of "unimaginable devastation" from the approaching menace, and it looked like he was proved right on Thursday morning as the first rescue and fix crews arrived to assess the damage.

An Associated Press team drove for miles and encountered extensive destruction around Panama City.

Authorities said at least two people have died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home and an 11-year-old girl killed by a tree falling on a home in southwest Georgia. "We worked all night in endangered circumstances".

The US Army said more than 2,000 Florida National Guard soldiers were working on the recovery operations. The area is known for its small beach towns, wildlife reserves and the state capital, Tallahassee.

Four kittens who survived Hurricane Michael's devastation and a roof collapse are now up for adoption at a local shelter, after being spotted cuddling among debris live on-air by ABC News' Rob Marciano.

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Storm surge could reach a monstrous 12 feet in some areas - enough to "easily go over the roofs of some houses", he said. In Panhandle counties, most state offices, schools and universities were closed for the rest of the week.

"I want to send our thoughts and prayers of our entire nation to everyone in the path of Hurricane Michael, especially in the Florida Panhandle where it's hitting and hitting hard", Trump told the crowd.

"For North Carolina, Michael isn't as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert", Gov. Roy Cooper said.

More than 900,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Alabama, the Carolinas and Georgia on Thursday.

"The wind that came through here was surreal".

"Our hearts are with the thousands who have sustained property damage, in many cases entirely wiped out", Mr Trump said.

Twenty miles (32km) south of Mexico Beach, floodwaters were more than 7 feet (2.1 meters) deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane center chief Ken Graham said. Wind damage was also evident.

Power lines were knocked down and heavy rains and fierce winds blanketed the area.

Michael is the third strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. mainland and the strongest to impact the Florida Panhandle.

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