Residents of Tallahassee were urged to immediately seek shelter, as Hurricane Michael – a category four storm – made landfall in Florida on Wednesday.
“My concern is for the people that are willing to sit it out in their homes or maybe in their trailers, thinking they can wait it out,” said one of the locals, who arrived at shelter organised at Godby High School.
“I think they need to seek shelter where they can before it comes here, because once rains and other things come in, it’s going to be difficult to seek safer ground,” he added.
“I’ve lived here all my life. So I don’t get typically concerned about storms, but this one looks pretty impressive,” another local commented.
The hurricane rapidly evolved from a tropical depression, reaching winds of 150 m/h (240km/h). Some regions of Florida will experience storm surges of up to 14ft (4m) and flash floods are expected in torrential rain.
Authorities have urged local residents to evacuate or take shelter, but many have reportedly not fled.
It is the third strongest storm to come ashore in the continental United States and the strongest October hurricane since records began.