The initial flight was smooth, but things got steadily more turbulent as the aircraft got closer and closer to the eye of the storm. "We thought the windows were going to break at any time", Beu said.
After carving an agonizing path of destruction across the Florida Panhandle, Georgia and southeastern Alabama for almost 10 hours, HurricaneMichael finally slowed to a tropical storm at midnight and continued to weaken early Thursday.
Hurricane Michael, the fiercest storm to hit Florida in a quarter century and the third-most powerful ever to strike the U.S. mainland, roared into the state's Gulf coast on Wednesday with tree-snapping winds and towering waves. She appeared to pull the "cover the hurricane in the field" stick, and today reported from a helicopter flying high over the ravaged area of Mexico City, Florida.
Michael is likely to dump heavy rain over Florida, Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
-Hurricane history: first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Florida's Panhandle since record-keeping began in 1851.
The category four storm - the second-highest on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale - made landfall near Mexico Beach in Florida and was just shy of a rare category five when it came ashore.
Winds gusts of around 60 miles per hour were reported in towns near the Georgia-Alabama border, according to the National Weather Service. They reported seeing many destroyed homes, some with staircases leading to doors suspended 10 feet in the air with nothing on the other side, and entire structures washed away.
More than 40 percent of daily crude oil production and more than one-third of natural gas output was lost from offshore US Gulf of Mexico wells on Wednesday because of platform evacuations and shut-ins caused by Michael. Add Hurricane Michael as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Hurricane Michael news, video, and analysis from ABC News. Its sustained winds were just 2 miles per hour (3.2 kph) shy of being an extremely rare Category 5. The area is known for its small beach towns, wildlife reserves and the state capital, Tallahassee.
By 8am EDT (1200 GMT) on Thursday it had been downgraded to a tropical storm with 50mph (85kph) winds as it pushed through Georgia into the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center said.
Florida has activated 3500 National Guard troops.
The same will not be the case for the near 300-mile stretch of coastline from Pensacola to Cedar Key, which attracts around 17 million visitors a year to its pristine white-sand beaches and clear, shallow emerald-green waters.
Michael crossed Georgia with heavy winds overnight and, now a tropical storm, is headed to the Carolinas.