After the remorseless storm plowed inland through Southeastern states Wednesday and Thursday, officials began the daunting tasks of helping the survivors and assessing the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Michael.

It's pure devastation in parts of the Florida Panhandle.

FOX10 News drone video shows widespread hurricane damage in Panama City.

It's even worse in nearby Mexico City, where beachfront homes by the row were essentially erased by Michael's storm surge and unrelenting winds, leaving only slabs in the sand in places.

Inlet Beach

A gas station is damaged at Inlet Beach, less than 10 miles from Panama City Beach in Florida, pictured a day after Hurricane Michael ripped through the region. 

The monstrous storm made landfall in Mexico Beach at 12:30 p.m. CT Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. That is just shy of Category 5, the largest class of storm. Incredibly, Michael remained a Category 3 storm as it moved into Georgia.

From Alabama, utility companies Alabama Power and Baldwin County EMC sent crews to help restore power to hundreds of thousands of people affected by Michael. 

The most powerful hurricane to hit Florida's Panhandle ever recorded left both a wide swath of destruction and heartbreaking deaths -- including a man outside Tallahassee, Fla., who died when a tree fell into his home, and an 11-year-old girl in southwest Georgia killed when a carport was dropped onto her home.

Not done, the downgraded tropical storm finished crossing Georgia early Thursday and then went onward to the Carolinas -- states already grappling with flooding from Hurricane Florence. The death toll went up there, too, with a driver in North Carolina killed as a tree fell onto his car.

By Friday morning, Michael's death toll had risen to 11, including 5 dead in Virginia.

Thousands of people in the path of Michael evacuated west to get out of harm's way, filling hotels in Alabama's Mobile and Baldwin counties, where local residents who already know firsthand about hurricanes welcomed the evacuees.

Some Florida residents who evacuated watched the devastation on television screens from places like Mobile, Ala. 

"I look at the devastation. Horrible, it's horrible. Horrible," said Juanita Mott, who lives in Calloway, Fla., which is near Panama City and Mexico Beach.

Hurricane Michael

A beachgoer saw this flag on the beach and placed it on this pole. 

On Thursday , the Florida Highway Patrol sent word that it had closed an 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10 to clear debris from Hurricane Michael. The interstate was shut down west of Tallahassee, between mile marker 85 near DeFuniak Springs and mile marker 166 near Lake Seminole.

More than 375,000 people along the Gulf Coast were told to evacuate as Michael neared. An uncounted many, of course, ignored those warnings.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people before and after the landfall, mostly from coastal homes.

Some fear the death toll will rise as rescue teams do their work and move into more isolated areas.

LifeSouth on Thursday put out a call for blood donors to maintain the blood supply at hospitals and communities greatly impacted by Michael. There is a significant shortage of type O blood and platelets of all blood types, LifeSouth says.

In the FOX10 News viewing area, local groups were gearing up right away to help with Michael relief efforts. In Alabama's Baldwin County, officials announced that the Baldwin County Coliseum in Robertsdale will shelter special needs hurricane evacuees on a long-term basis.

All content © 2018, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.  

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