(RNN) - Tropical Storm Michael threatened strong rains, dangerous flash-flooding, and widespread power failures as it continued up through North Carolina and into Virginia on Thursday, one day after ravaging communities along the Florida Panhandle.
The storm has continued to retain a remarkable amount of strength since making landfall on Wednesday as one of the strongest storms ever to hit the Gulf.
A massive search-and-rescue effort played out along the Panhandle, where Michael arrived with 155 mph winds, nearly making it a Category 5, and decimating dozens of structures.
The death toll rose to at least six people after the storm killed a person in North Carolina on Thursday, when a 38-year-old man died after a tree fell on his vehicle.
On Wednesday, then-Hurricane Michael smashed into the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 storm, then cut a path of destruction into Georgia, remaining a hurricane until early Thursday.
The storm killed at least four people in Gadsden County, FL, including a man who died when a tree fell on his home - the first reported death attributed to Michael.
Officials said an 11-year-old girl in Seminole County, GA, died after a mobile carport was picked up by the wind, crashed through the roof and hit her head, WALB reported.
By Thursday evening, the storm was moving northeast from North Carolina to Virginia, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Flood warnings are issued for areas that are still drying out from Hurricane Florence’s massive flooding.
In North Carolina, Michael had begun to knock out power across huge swaths of the state on Thursday. More than 600,000 outages were reported in the state.
The storm battered the Carolinas on Thursday, where people are still recovering from damage done by Hurricane Florence just weeks ago.
The eastern Carolinas and southeast Virginia may also see tornadoes.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward from Michael’s center up to 160 miles, according to the NHC.
Emergency declarations covered 322 counties across five Southern states, according to The New York Times.
Officials said the damage brought by Michael is some of the worst they’ve ever seen, leaving homes destroyed, trees uprooted and streets flooded in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
In Panama City, FL, which bore the brunt of the storm, a train was blown off its tracks, CNN reported.
The National Hurricane Center estimated that an area from Mexico Beach to Apalachicola Bay sustained an estimated storm surge for 9 to 14 feet, with the highest surge near Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe.
Alongside the damage, residents suffered from widespread power outages, and thousands in Florida found themselves weathering the storm in the 54 shelters set up in the state.
The Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center in Panama City, FL, moved critical patients to other hospitals because of the instability of the power supply and water systems.
Some of these power outages could last weeks because of the “absolutely overwhelming” nature of the storm, according to the director of the National Hurricane Center, Ken Graham.
Bay County, FL, was placed under a mandatory boil water notice, and arrests were made in the area after reports of looting, according to CNN.
“Most roads in Bay County are impassable at this point due to debris or water covering the roadway,” according to WSFA. “It is imperative that residents stay put if possible.”
Wednesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott activated 3,500 soldiers and airmen for high water search and rescue operations, and the state government is expected to deploy “1 million gallons of water, 1.5 million Meals Ready-to-Eat and 400,000 pounds of ice” to help those impacted by the storm.
Search and rescue teams have moved into Panama City, Mexico Beach, Tyndall AFB, Alligator Point and Carrabelle, the governor said on Thursday.
The Salvation Army also announced they’re sending a mobile feeding kitchen to Panama City to serve residents.
A dusk-to-dawn curfew was announced for storm-impacted areas, including all of Bay County, the City of Panama City announced on its Facebook page.
President Donald Trump said he will visit Florida early next week, once the storm has passed. On Tuesday, he approved an emergency declaration for the state, meaning federal aid will be available to assist in hurricane recovery.
Forecasters say Michael will re-emerge over water off the Mid-Atlantic coast and become a post-tropical cyclone by Friday. It may re-strengthen some at that time, leaving the Carolinas vulnerable to storm surge.
One of the most intense storms to ever hit the U.S., Hurricane Michael roared ashore early Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm and cut a path of destruction across the Florida Panhandle, bringing heavy rains and damaging winds, before it entered Georgia as a Category 3 storm, the first to track into the state in over a century.
Michael was finally downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday while over south-central Georgia.
Michael is the strongest hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle on record and the strongest storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. since Hurricane Andrew, which struck in 1992.
One catastrophic storm in recent memory, Hurricane Katrina, made its second landfall in 2005 as a Category 3 (sustained winds of 125 mph) storm, devastating the Mississippi Gulf Coast and southeast Louisiana, in particular catastrophically flooding New Orleans.
Just a few weeks ago, Hurricane Florence made landfall on Sept. 14 near Wrightsville Beach, NC. That storm had maximum-sustained winds of 90 mph, the NHC said.