Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in Florida on Wednesday with top wind speeds of nearly 125mph, snapping trees and power lines, submerging houses and forcing residents in coastal areas to flee.
More than 225,000 people were still without power in Florida on Wednesday night, and officials are still trying to assess the damage.
Among the properties damaged was the state governor Ron DeSantis’ home, where an oak tree toppled onto the roof just after he gave a press conference saying the hurricane had caused no fatalities in Florida.
Mr DeSantis’ wife Casey said family members were home at the time but nobody was injured.
“Our prayers are with everyone impacted by the storm", she said.
Idalia crossed into Georgia with top winds of 90mph throughout Wednesday before weakening to a tropical storm with speeds of 60mph overnight.
One man was killed in Valdosta, Georgia, when a tree fell on him as he was trying to clear another tree out of the road, said Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk.
Two others, including a sheriff’s deputy, were injured when the tree fell. Idalia is making its way through the Carolinas and was forecast to move along the coast before heading out into the Atlantic Ocean.
In Charleston, South Carolina, waves surged at high tide to just over 2.8m, the ifth-highest reading in Charleston Harbour since records were first kept in 1899.
Florida had feared the worst when the ‘catastrophic’ hurricane hit shore, because of the devastating damage caused by last year’s Hurricane Ian, which left 149 dead in the state.
However, unlike that storm, Idalia blew through the lightly inhabited area known as Florida’s “nature coast," one of the state’s most rural regions.
Because of the remoteness of the Big Bend area, search teams may need more time to complete their work compared with past hurricanes in more urban areas, officials said.
The US National Weather Service in Tallahassee called Idalia “an unprecedented event" since no major hurricanes on record have ever passed through the bay abutting the Big Bend.
The White House said President Joe Biden had called the governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina on Wednesday and told them their states had his administration’s full support.