Hurricane Sally, which slammed Florida and Alabama as a powerful Category 2 storm, left heavy flooding, destroyed buildings, 500,000 homes and businesses without power, and at least one person dead.
"It looks like a war zone to me," a Florida resident told NBC's "TODAY" on Thursday.
Sally, which has since been downgraded to a tropical depression, deluged parts of Pensacola on the Florida Panhandle with nearly 30 inches of rain, causing some streets to look like rivers with whitecaps at times.
The main bridge between Pensacola and Pensacola Beach had a section knocked out when a barge-mounted construction crane came loose.
In Gulf Shores, Alabama, where the hurricane made landfall Wednesday morning, resident Holli Deere said, "It sounded like a freight train, a never-ending freight train. When it was over, there was just silence."
But Deere, 37, who splits her time between Gulf Shores and Foley, said the aftermath of the hurricane is the hardest part as residents find themselves living amid destruction and without power.
"We treat it as if we are camping," she said of having no power.
The storm was responsible for one death in Orange Beach, Alabama, about seven miles east of Gulf Shores, Mayor Tony Kennon said.
Orange Beach officials warned residents Wednesday, "Stay off the roads and be at your destination before dark as downed power lines, potential gas leaks, debris on roads exist."
Sally weakened to a tropical depression Wednesday but was cutting a swath through the Southeast on Thursday, putting 20 million people from Georgia through southeastern Virginia under flash flood alerts and 6 million at the risk of severe storms.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned people in flooded areas that as water from the hurricane subsides, heavy rains to the north were expected to cause flooding in Panhandle rivers in the coming days.
“So this is kind of the initial salvo, but there is going to be more that you’re going to have to contend with,” he said.
DeSantis also said at a news conference that residents should expect a lot of property damage from the flooding.
"When you see downtown Pensacola and you see 3 feet of water there, that's going to affect probably every business," the governor said.