Below are 15 images that personify the aftermath of the Category 4 storm, which blew ashore along the Panhandle packing 155 miles per hour winds.
Michael is expected to continue weakening overnight, the National Hurricane Center said, and become a tropical storm by Thursday morning before it moves off into the Atlantic later this week.
The top wind speeds are an estimate from an instrument on the Hurricane Hunter aircraft.
Pictures and video from Mexico Beach, a community of about 1,000 people where Michael made landfall around 1:00 pm Eastern time, showed scenes of devastation, with houses floating in flooded streets, some ripped from their foundations and missing roofs.
Drawing energy from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the storm strengthened rapidly into a potentially devastating Category 3 by evening.
Among those helping are about 450 Florida Highway Patrol officers, many of whom drove through the night to the Panhandle to help with rescues.
"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient".
A storm surge warning is in effect for Okaloosa/Walton County Line in Florida to Anclote River in Florida.
Sarah Radney, who lived in Seminole County, Georgia, died when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home.
As of 2 p.m. EDT, Michael was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Greensboro, North Carolina, with winds of 50 mph (85 kph).
Smith, in Gadsden County, said the situation was risky even for emergency personnel.
"This happened so quickly, we weren't exactly prepared", he said.
"This is a life-threatening situation", the NHC said in its latest public advisory.
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All of which suggests the aliens are going to absolutely love the Venom/A Star Is Born cross-over film someone is frantically pitching as we speak.
Smith could not provide details on the victim. The area is known for its small coastal towns and wildlife reserves.
General Terrence O Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm.
The NHC warns that some regions of Florida may experience storm surges of up to 13ft (4m). "We haven t seen as robust of an evacuation response from the civilian population that we have seen in other storms".
Often, storm surge - the rapid rise of water pushed onto shore as a result of a hurricane's winds - and rainfall can have more disastrous consequences. So, where did the 155 mile per hour winds come from?
An estimated 375,000 people in more than 20 counties were ordered or advised to evacuate.
It developed into a hurricane on Monday, and by today, more than 140,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders.
"Hurricane Michael is an unprecedented event and can not be compared to any of our previous events.
So many families have lost everything", he said.
In Florida, 54 shelters are open with a population of almost 6,700 people.
He added that school is closed for the rest of the week and students living off campus were given the option to stay in a hurricane shelter on school grounds.
Hurricane Michael weakened to tropical storm Thursday but remained a menace as it rolled across the Southeast, leaving two dead after tearing a path of devastation through the Florida Panhandle and parts of Georgia.
While Florence took five days between the time it turned into a hurricane and the moment it rolled into the Carolinas, Michael gave Florida what amounted to two days' notice.
With a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, a measure of a hurricane's force, Michael was the third strongest storm on record to hit the continental United States, behind only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.