Hurricane Michael made landfall just a few hours ago, growing into a "monster", according to President Trump, and plunging thousands of residents, including a former Ottawa woman, into darkness.

The rain is pounding and the wind is whipping outside Judy Brown's apartment in Tallahassee.  Her power is gone and the full force the hurricane is about to hit.

“It’s still pretty heavy, pretty noisy,” Brown says.

Hurricane Michael has already been hammering parts of the Florida Panhandle and expected to hit near Brown's home by late afternoon.   The former Ottawa resident has been busy preparing for it. 

“I grew up in southwest Florida,” says Brown, “and we had the eyes of storm go over us every summer but for some reason it's scarier here because the damage will come from the wind.”

Those winds have reached 250 kilometres an hour, making Hurricane Michael one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S. mainland in more than a century.

  “Hurricane Michael is upon us,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott, “and now is the time to seek refuge.”

States of emergency have been declared in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and once again, North Carolina.

Canada said it is ready to help those affected by the hurricane.  In a statement, Global Affairs Canada advised,

“Canadians currently in the affected areas exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports and follow instructions....including evacuation orders.”

Krista Humick with Global Affairs Canada says it is difficult to estimate how many Canadians are in the affected areas because registration is voluntary, but,

“According to the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) there are a total of 387 ROCA registrants are in areas where Tropical Storm Michael is anticipated to make landfall or have a potentially significant impact. There are currently 3 ROCA registrants in Tallahassee, Florida, 9 ROCA registrants in Panama City, Florida, 279 ROCA registrants in the state of Georgia, 36 ROCA registrants in the state of Alabama, and 60 ROCA registrants in the state of South Carolina.”

Canadians on cruise ships in the area may notice a slight change in their itinerary to avoid Tampa or Galveston for a couple of days.

Elliot Finkelman is with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, “Where it's going to hit isn't an all-inclusive resort that we've heard about,” he says, “Those travelers are okay, it's not the destination most Ottawans choose this time of year.  It’s not a high season.”

Judy Brown, meantime, has done what she can to prepare for Hurricane Michael; now it's just a question of riding it out.

“Just hunker down, stay away from the windows,” Brown says, “We've got all supplies we need.  They expect the power may be out a week or two so all the preparations done and just hope for best now.”