Hurricane Michael leaves destruction, thousands without power in its wake

The historic Category 4 storm, struck the Florida Panhandle early Wednesday afternoon, unleashing heavy rain, high winds and a devastating storm surge.
6:50 | 10/12/18

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Transcript for Hurricane Michael leaves destruction, thousands without power in its wake
Reporter: The imagery is shocking from the air. It's almost impossible to describe the destruction from hurricane Michael here on Mexico beach. There are some buildings still standing. Others are completely destroyed. Reporter: And on the ground. We've now made it about ten blocks, and the destruction hasn't ended. So many homes ripped apart and gone, even if they're standing, they are -- they'll be condemned. Reporter: Flattened homes to hospitals. Hurricane Michael's quick and powerful strike came in with a roar, the most powerful storm to hit the United States in 50 years. This storm remains remarkably powerful. Here in the storm zone, a couple of dry days as they continue this very daunting clean-up and recovery effort. Leaving beach towns and fishing villages in ruins, countless displaced or homeless, more than a million without power and a quarter of that without cell service. Michael remaining the hurricane through Georgia, then weakening across the Carolinas but dumping heavy rain and strong winds across much of the east coast. States of emergency have been declared in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia. Early this morning, we met a woman outside her home, the roof nearly torn off. I took that storm for granted. You regret sticking around for it. Yeah. Yeah. But I'm alive. I'm alive. Just start shaking. The house started shaking. I got down on the floor. It was probably not -- I started crying to the lord, take us through this. I've been in this house 11 years. You ain't never seen a storm like this. In Panama City, I don't think nobody ever have. Reporter: Just to the east, Mexico beach, Florida, wiped out. Once a beautiful coastal town now transformed into an apocalyptic scene of bit rated homes. My colleague experiencing the storm dangerously close watching as the ferocity of the winds. I saw a home taken off the foundation and rolled down the street. I have never seen something like an entire home, a well built home, rolling down the street and I'll tell you right now, it makes you shake. Reporter: The blue house across the street from where ginger was locked down during the storm, vanished. The home that I saw floating away was standing there. It is no longer. Reporter: Remarkably, ginger hears from Jenny Caputo, who tells us she watched our report and that she's the owner of that blue house. Hello, this is Jenny. I can't imagine if it were my home. I'm heartbroken. We've only had that house five months. We've been coming to Mexico beach for over ten years and we just love it. We finally bought a place there that we were going to enjoy with our young family now. We'll be back. We will rebuild and we'll come back and we have lots of -- they're just good people there. Reporter: So many people still desperate for news, then cut off from all communication. You swam. Yes. Out. Yes. Of your home. Yes. To a boat. Yes. And that's how you survived. Yes. Reporter: Today, survivors giving ginger phone numbers to call, telling loved ones they're alive. Your daughter and her husband got into a boat that was on a trailer and they rode out the entire five hours of the storm. Just beside ourselves. Reporter: My colleague, David, went to two hospitals that were badly damaged. The wind took a path when it broke those doors out and broke these doors out, the wind made a wind tunnel through the emergency department and we had to physically block off the doors which was actually fairly difficult to do. How did you do that? We put stretchers up and then bars across the doors to keep the doors from flying open. Our hospital is filled with patients and a lot of them are sick. They had to be moved quickly. Reporter: Beginning this morning, they began medivac'ing the most critical out. I don't know how to get in here. Early this afternoon, when we continued through the destruction, we discovered humane society workers safe but trapped by falling trees. Are you guys stuck in there? Putting out an S.O.S. Call for them and the animals. I put out a post because we've got to transport these animals out of here, and I just put it out on Facebook and said, please, everybody share. This is an issue. We've got, what, 30, 35 dogs and 60 to 70 cats. And that means you're transporting one or two at a time over all of this. Reporter: We just called the National Guard. Hopefully they can help. You did? Reporter: What do you need, you need the road cleared? National guardsmen arriving to prepare a plan to evacuate them. They won't get out tonight. They'll be back with engineers and heavy equipment tomorrow. The record breaking storm, the strongest to ever hit the Florida panhandle made landfall just after the united nations released a dire report on the impacts of climate change. Scientists have been warning us for years that we can expect to see more extreme weather with climate change. But heat waves, wildfires and heavy rainfall events of recent months, all over the world underscore these warnings. Reporter: Oceans are warming, waters warming, due to climate change. This warm water contributed to the strength of that hurricane. According to a 2013 study, sea surface temperatures in the eastern gulf of Mexico, the same waters hurricane Michael fed off of, have warmed over the past century more than what would be expected naturally. These waters in the gulf were warmer than they normally are at this time of the year and we know, again, that hurricanes thrive on warmer water. Reporter: The landmark U.N. Report released just this week warned mankind has 12 years to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions or face global catastrophe. With severe drought, floods, rising sea levels, and extreme heat set to cause mass dislocation and destruction. Back on the ground in the storm-tossed region, there were small glimmers of hope in this disaster zone. A Tallahassee woman greeting the mayor with a "Late night" treat. I'm out here to bring them chocolate chip cookies. Would you like some cookies? Holy cow. I'm going to take one. Reporter: Happy to be alive, I'm sure, but they're not happy right here. And we met some of the smallest survivors, saved by that couple, four kittens. They're just so cold and hungry. Reporter: But making it through the storm safely now in a shelter up for adoption. For "Nightline," I'm rob Marciano in Panama City, Florida.

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

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