ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As the death toll from one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the U.S. rose, the Florida Panhandle continued to take in the scope of destruction by Michael.

Six people were dead so far from Michael after a 38-year-old man was killed by a large tree that fell on his vehicle on Highway 64 east of Statesville, North Carolina.

Four people were killed in Gadsden County, Florida, according to the Sheriff's Office there. The county was under a curfew Thursday.

The first person reported to have been killed was a child in Seminole County, Georgia.

FEMA officials were on the scene in the Panhandle Thursday trying to prevent any further loss of life and assessing the safety of the area before recovery crews can begin their work. 

"Focus of life, safety and damage assessment is (first) priority," said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. "Search and rescue started last night. Once we can survey roads for damage, debris cleanup can begin and we can get to work on communications, transportation, power, health and medical."

Meanwhile, search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Panhandle to reach trapped people in Michael's wake Thursday after the third-most powerful hurricane on record to hit the continental U.S. carved a path of destruction across the Southeast.

Gov. Rick Scott said crews were in Panama City, Mexico Beach, Tyndall, Alligator Point and Carrabelle, among other locations.

More than 70 boats and 200 off-road vehicles were being used in the Panhandle and Big Bend for search-and-rescue operations.

"Be safe. There's downed power lines, don't touch them. There's a lot of trees down, don’t get injured. If you're going to use a generator, make sure you know how to use it properly," Scott said.


A Storm Surge Watch was in effect for...

* Ocracoke Inlet North Carolina to Duck North Carolina

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...

* Altamaha Sound Georgia to Duck North Carolina

* Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds

Michael made landfall early Wednesday afternoon near Mexico Beach as a major category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. The pressure dropped to 919 mb before landfall, making it stronger than Andrew when it made landfall with a minimum pressure 922 mb.  

According to records going back to 1851, no storm Category 4 or greater has ever made landfall in this part of the state. This is the third-lowest pressure of land falling hurricane in the U.S. on record.

Before-and-after satellite images

In these images taken by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite, the path of destruction can be seen as Hurricane Michael made landfall at Mexico Beach, Florida and traveled northeast: