- The state of Florida says 3 million ready-to-eat meals, 2 million gallons of water and 2 million pounds of ice are being distributed in storm-impacted areas.
"Blue skies, right in the eye", marveled Melendez.
It could be weeks before power is restored to the most damaged parts of Florida.
Now a tropical storm, the system is moving through SC on its way to North Carolina - two states that are still coping with the effects of flooding from Hurricane Florence.
Wind speed is typically viewed as the best predictor of a storm's destructive potential, but studies have shown central pressure is actually a better indicator of the extent of damage a storm system is likely to cause.
Left behind in Hurricane Michael's wake: tens of thousands without homes, hospitals too broken down to provide care, hundreds of thousands cut-off from power and with no way to contact friends and loved ones.
Cleanup and recovery operations have begun in Florida, with Gov. Rick Scott tweeting that efforts would be "aggressive".
Nearby Panama City Beach experienced similar damage along with other communities along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.
An estimated 6,000 people fled to emergency shelters, mostly in Florida, and that number was expected to swell to 20,000 across five states by the weekend, said Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross.
With winds surging to 155 miles per hour (250 kph), Michael wreaked havoc on the Florida Panhandle, leaving a devastating trail of destruction along the Gulf coast before it was downgraded to a tropical storm in the evening as it moved further inland. The rest of Mexico Beach did not fare as well, and most of the beachfront homes, restaurants and stores were obliterated by the storm.
Social media websites were filled with messages from people trying to reach missing family members in Florida's Bay and Gulf Counties.
More than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power.
The authorities had earlier issued warnings about the impending hurricane, advising more than 375,000 people to evacuate their homes.
Michael was expected to leave the U.S. east coast on Friday.
Rescue personnel search amidst debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.
The extent of the damage was becoming clear on Thursday as AFP reporters and photographers toured affected areas and USA television networks flew helicopters along the coast.
"I'm very concerned about our citizens that didn't evacuate and I just hope that, you know, we don't have much loss of life", Scott told ABC.
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Administrator Brock Long warned residents of the hardest hit area not to go back yet.
The death toll across the South stood at 14 including the victim discovered in Mexico Beach. Boston-based Karen Clark & Company released that estimate Thursday, which includes privately insured wind and storm surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties and vehicles.
Two of the people killed in the storm were a Florida man whose house was struck by a tree and a Georgia girl who was struck by debris falling into her home, officials and local media said.