PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (CBSNewYork) – Emergency responders from New York and New Jersey are heading to help with Hurricane Michael rescue and recovery efforts.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the New York Air National Guard and New York Army National Guard are preparing to send nearly 100 members to Florida and Mississippi, along with helicopters and other equipment.
“New York understands the devastation that extreme weather can cause, and we stand ready, willing and able to help the states impacted by Hurricane Michael,” the governor said in a statement. “New Yorkers are always ready to help those in need, and we are committed to providing personnel, equipment and teams to help our southern neighbors recover as quickly as possible.”
Meanwhile, New Jersey sent a task force of nearly 90 members to Alabama to assist.
The hurricane strengthened to a Category 4 storm overnight before making landfall around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday near Mexico Beach, Florida.
The National Weather Service warned storm could bring a life-threatening storm surge of up to 14 feet and more than a foot of rain. With winds at landfall of approximately 155 mph – just shy of the 157 mph needed to be Category 5 – CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn reported it was the fourth strongest storm ever to make landfall in the United States and the strongest to do so since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Later in the day Michael continued into Georgia as a still-powerful Category 3 storm. Footage showed a home completely leveled in Crawford County with a small boat tossed in the debris.
“Unfortunately, Hurricane Michael is a hurricane of the worst kind,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “Major hurricanes cause large losses of life.”
By late Wednesday over 500,000 people were already without power, and officials said it could be days or even weeks before it was restored.
“You’ve waited too long. You’ve got to hunker down. You’ve got to shelter as quickly as you can,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday.
Florida has deployed at least 3,000 National Guard troops, and search and rescue teams are coming from across the country. President Donald Trump said he planned to visit the area either Sunday or Monday.
Officials confirm at least two people were killed when trees fell in Florida and Georgia.
Watch: FEMA Officials Provide Update On Hurricane Michael
Watch: President Trump Briefed On Hurricane Michael
Watch: Florida Gov. Rick Scott Gives Update On Hurricane Michael
Watch: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Gives Update On Hurricane Michael