Trees were stripped to stalks, roofs were shredded, trucks toppled and boats pushed into buildings.
"Our biggest thing is the downed lines and the downed trees and now this water main issue", said Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson, referring to a burst water main complicating efforts to restore power.
Hundreds of cars had broken windows and twisted street signs lay on the ground.
Thirty miles up the coast in Panama City, blocks of beachfront homes were obliterated and debris lay strewn aside overturned vehicles. Michael left a trail of utility wires on roads, flattened tall pine trees and knocked a steeple from a church. A year ago the school welcomed students and families displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Australia mulls banning some immigrants from biggest cities
The government may introduce visa conditions to limit where some migrants live for up to five years, he said. There are now no limits on where individuals can settle after they receive a skilled migrant visa.
Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Florida Panhandle to reach trapped people in Michael's wake on Thursday as daylight yielded the devastating scenes.
Hurricane Michael is the strongest storm to make landfall in the continental United States in nearly half a century, and the strongest hurricane ever to hit in October.
"As Tropical Storm Michael turns to the Commonwealth, I want to urge all Virginians to prepare for the serious possibility of flash floods, tropical storm force winds, tornadoes, and power outages", said Governor Northam.
Authorities said a falling tree killed a man outside Tallahassee, Florida, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia was killed when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home.