Record-breaking hurricane slams Florida Panhandle

Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach with winds of 155 miles per hour, just shy of a Category 5 hurricane.
7:06 | 10/11/18

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Transcript for Record-breaking hurricane slams Florida Panhandle
We are thinking of all those in the path of Michael, the worst hurricane to ever hit the Florida panhandle and the storm is on the move this morning. Michael is now a tropical storm barreling through the Carolinas. The area, of course, already hit so hard by hurricane Florence just last month. It made landfall as a category 4 hurricane, almost category 5 packing winds up to 155 miles an hour, strongest storm to hit the U.S. In nearly 50 years. Look at that wind right there. Now hundreds of thousands across Florida and Georgia waking up to scenes of total devastation. You see this school right here completely destroyed. It is. Our team was there on the ground as Michael roared ashore and they are spread out across the storm zone for us again this morning. "World news tonight" anchor David Muir leads us off from Panama City. Good morning, David. Reporter: Robin, good morning to you. Hurricane Michael one word this morning, historic. A category 4 hurricane never before have they seen a cat 4 here in the Florida panhandle and keep in mind it was just shy of a category 5 hurricane. Winds 155 miles per hour and it was terrifying for so many of the families in all of these communities here in the panhandle. This was the hotel we were reporting from and where so many families had sought shelters. Authorities told them to go somewhere safer and they came here. Look what happened. A giant part of the roof coming crashing down. Metal just hanging off the roof and keep in mind, we found this location to report because of the steel reinforcements on each side, these columns and the walls headed into the hotel. Take a look. This is where we were along with so many of those families witnessing the fury and when they saw it come down they headed into the hallways and stairwells just as we did to stay safe as that hurricane went right over us. Hurricane Michael is the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. Since 1969 ripping through the southeast leaving a path of destruction in its wake. The monster storm slamming into the panhandle making landfall before 1:00 in the afternoon. Winds at 155 miles an hour just shy of a category 5 hurricane. The terrifying winds and torrential rain submerging whole neighborhoods tearing apart homes and buildings. Here in Panama City, communities taking a brutal beating. The storm swaying palm trees, throwing debris around in all directions. Watch as fierce winds tear apart this Panama City home. This is the first category 4 hurricane to ever hit the region. We were on the air at the moment the outer eye wall of the hurricane approached. This hurricane is about to make landfall again not far from where we are right now. I want to show you behind me some of the damage it's already done. You can see the trees, one has come down behind us. Watch the waves crashing ashore. The national weather service measuring some waves more than 30 feet before making landfall before that buoy stopped working. Transformers bursting behind us. Did you see that? Reporter: Our team watching the storm's fury from between reinforced concrete walls at this hotel. We are seeing the brunt of the most dangerous part of this storm begin to move in. Trees are coming down in front of us. Power lines have come down. And I just want you to hear what it sounds like standing out here just the sheer force of this. Listen to this. Just a short time later with so many of the families seeking shelter here we watched as part of the hotel roof collapsed. It's going to go. It's going to go. You can see the roof of the hotel that we had been standing out there, that was the shelter for a category 4 hurricane, that has now come down on those SUVs. Moments later, the windows shattered. The view from the highest floor of the hotel providing a view of the destruction. Just the stunning amount of damage. I mean it's almost apocalyptic. Those are the roads, the streets surrounding the hotel completely covered in water. When the storm finally passed through, the scale of the devastation coming into focus. Signs of destruction everywhere. A twisted boardwalk, debris piercing through this car's windshield and the windows of our third floor hotel room had blown right out. You can see that the streets are completely flooded. This stunning drone footage revealing a school in Panama City completely destroyed. This dramatic video showing a beachfront building under construction partially collapses lashed by the high winds. While the system has now passed over the panhandle, the next phase of this historic storm is just beginning. We're turning 100% of our focus on search and rescue and recovery. Reporter: While hundreds of thousands were told to evacuate many decided to stay. Colleen swab of Panama City said she and her family rode out the hurricane in their downstairs closet. We were hiding in the closet. All I could hear was wind and I thought the roof would come off. Reporter: Sabrina Marshall was home with her family. The door open and the roof flew off. Reporter: Massive power outages across Florida, Alabama and Georgia. And hurricane Michael even as it hit Georgia was not giving up still a category 3 hurricane at that point with plenty of punch. Thrashing winds tearing apart homes and uprooting trees. Including this one caught on a home security system. It was terrifying honestly. A lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break and we did whatever we could, just kind of hunkered down and tried to wait it out. Reporter: That's exactly what the families did inside this hotel right after the hurricane passed, I went down the hallways to check on all the families staying here and so many of the rooms a couple of inches of water came through the windows but they are okay. Everyone who stayed here at this hotel, this van was our rental van and you can see the roof is on top of it and a couple of other vehicles and this was what I was most worried about as we were reporting, this guy right here, Kerry, a weather watcher in his pickup truck when the roof came down on top of him. You're okay. I am. You're okay this morning. I am. I saw you were still measuring the pressure even during the storm. That's a brave man but thank you, I'm glad you're okay. One more piece of video. This is sort of the incredible nature of these storms. This was a man who was driving right toward the eye of the hurricane and we always talk about when you get to that eye how sometimes the storm simply pauses and you see blue sky and we saw this video, we were struck by that moment which we rarely see the blue sky above, just shows you the awesome power of these hurricanes. You won't find anyone in the panhandle this morning who will question the strength and the scope of this hurricane unlike anything they've ever seen before here. It does appear that way, all right, David, thank you very much. Glad that you and everybody there that was staying at that hotel safe and sound this morning. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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