Hurricane Dorian makes landfall over the US's North Carolina

Storm brings floodwaters and high winds to US eastern coastline after reducing parts of the Bahamas to rubble.

    Waves crash against Rodanthe Pier as Hurricane Dorian makes its way to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina [Jose Luis Magana/AFP]
    Waves crash against Rodanthe Pier as Hurricane Dorian makes its way to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina [Jose Luis Magana/AFP]

    Hurricane Dorian made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday, hitting the beach resort area with powerful winds and battering waves days after reducing parts of the Bahamas to rubble and killing dozens on the island nation. 

    The storm, packing 150km/h (90mph) made landfall at Cape Hatteras at about 9am local time (13:00 GMT), according to the National Hurricane Center.

    It lashed the Outer Banks with hurricane-force winds as far as 72 kilometres (45 miles) from the centre of the hurricane and sent tropical storm winds farther than 320km from its centre, the NHC said.

    "It's bad," Ann Warner, who owns Howard's Pub on Ocracoke Island, told the Associated Press by telephone. "The water came up to the inside of our bottom floor, which has never had water."

    She said a skylight blew out and whitecaps coursed through her front yard and underneath her elevated house.

    "We're safe," Warner added. "But it's certainly a mess."

    Another Ocracoke Island resident, bookshop owner Leslie Lanier, texted: "We are flooding like crazy. It is in the houses, and there will be more before it stops."

    "Lots of people are getting water starting in their homes," Lanier added. "I have been here 32 years and not seen this."

    It has already dumped up to 25cm (10 inches) of rain along the coast between Charleston, South Carolina, to Wilmington, North Carolina, about 275km away, forecasters said. 

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    "The rain is moving up north," said National Weather Service forecaster Alex Lamers early on Friday. "Even the Raleigh-Durham area inland will get 3 inches (7.5cm) today."

    Dorian is expected to push out to sea later on Friday and bring tropical storm winds to Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, early on Saturday.

    But it will likely spare much of the rest of the East Coast the worst of its rain and wind, before likely making landfall in Canada's Nova Scotia that night, the NHC said.

    "It's in the process of moving out, going north," Lamers said.

    Floodwaters, power outages

    The howling west flank of Dorian has soaked the Carolinas since early on Thursday, flooding coastal towns, whipping up more than a dozen tornadoes and cutting power to hundreds of thousands of people.

    Floodwaters rose to 30cm (a foot) or more in parts of the historic South Carolina port city of Charleston, where more than 18cm (seven inches) of rain fell in some areas, officials said.  

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    More than 330,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina and South Carolina on Friday morning. Power had mostly been restored to thousands of people in Georgia, tracking site poweroutage.us showed.

    But as Dorian is expected to pick up speed from its 22 km/h (14mph) crawl on Friday, life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds remain a threat for much of the area and Virginia, the National Hurricane Center said.

    Governors in the region declared states of emergency, shut schools, opened shelters, readied National Guard troops and urged residents to heed warnings, as news media circulated fresh images of the storm's devastation in the Bahamas.

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    Water floods streets in Charleston, South Carolina, on September 5, 2019, as Hurricane Dorian moves along the southeastern US coast [Lucie Aubourg/AFP] 

    In North and South Carolina alone, more than 900,000 people had been ordered to evacuate their homes. It was unclear how many complied.

    In Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks, Mark Jennings decided to ignore the order, lining his garage door with sandbags and boarding up his home with plywood. 

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    The retired firefighter planned to stay put with his wife and two dogs, saying: "We are ready to go. If something happens, we can still get out of here."

    Dorian whipped up at least three tornadoes in the region, officials said. One in North Carolina damaged scores of trailers at a campground in Emerald Isle, but no one was injured, the News & Observer said.

    Of at least four storm-related deaths reported in the United States, three were in Orange County, Florida, during storm preparations or evacuation, the mayor's office said.

    In North Carolina, an 85-year-old man fell off a ladder while barricading his home for Dorian, the governor said.

    70,000 in need of relief in the Bahamas

    At least 70,000 Bahamians needed immediate humanitarian relief after Dorian became the most damaging storm ever to hit the island nation. The hurricane killed at least 30 people, but officials said the death toll was expected to increase. 

    On one of the hardest-hit islands - Abaco - small planes picked up the most vulnerable survivors on Thursday.

    The evacuation was slow, however, and there was frustration for some who said they had nowhere to go after the Category 5 hurricane splintered whole neighbourhoods.

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    People recover items from a beached boat after Hurricane Dorian September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco [Brendan Smialowski/AFP] 

    "They told us that the babies, the pregnant people and the elderly people were supposed to be first preference," said Lukya Thompson, a 23-year-old bartender. But many were still waiting, she told the Associated Press.

    Relief organisations began dropping off supplies, including food, water and generators.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies