Hurricane Dorian unleashed flooding, high winds and tornadoes Thursday along the East Coast, leaving more than 250,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas without power.
In its slow crawl toward the U.S., Dorian briefly strengthened to a Category 3 storm Thursday before returning to Category 2 with sustained winds of 110 mph. It spent the day churning in the waters off South and North Carolina.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Dorian is expected to torment Virginia’s beaches on Friday, then head out to sea — skirting the waters off of southeastern New England on Friday night and approaching Nova Scotia on Saturday.
On Thursday morning, as Dorian inched northward from Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted about lifting the mandatory evacuation on coastal counties.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that it was the Peach Tree state’s third hurricane evacuation since 2016.
Officials spent the day surveying the damage with no major reports of flooding, although about 15,000 people were without electricity in the Savannah area, according to Georgia Power.
South Carolina found itself in worse shape, with more than 200,000 customers without electricity, according to the online tracker PowerOutage.us.
Gov. Henry McMaster had issued a mandatory evacuation order for 830,000 people for the entire coastline. Thursday saw flash flooding, heavy rains, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes in nearby Myrtle Beach, according to local law enforcement.
The Hilton Head Island area endured winds of up to 75 mph, and similar gusts were felt in the harbor city of Charleston, which soaked up at least 7 inches of rain and experienced downtown flooding around the Medical University of South Carolina, the school reported on Twitter.
Staff at the nearby Courtyard by Marriott Charleston Waterfront, which overlooks the Ashley River, said it could have been worse had the storm hit at high tide.
“We got lucky,” the concierge told The Washington Times. “I’m looking at the choppy waters in the river right now. They’ll be choppy until sunset at least, but we should be OK.”
Local rescue crews were busy dealing with downed trees along the evacuation routes of Interstates 95 and 26, in addition to roofs torn off buildings such as the Holy City Church in James Island, a town nearby Charleston, CBS News affiliate WCSC-TV reported.
Across the state line in North Carolina, tornado watches were in effect, with more than a dozen sightings reported, including one near a county fire station north of the coastal city of Wilmington.
Weather.com reported a waterspout coming ashore in Emerald Isle, along the Outer Banks, where it damaged homes in an recreational vehicles park.
Virginia was bracing for Dorian, with officials in the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach ordering residents to start evacuating, CBS News affiliate WTKR TV reported.
The Virginia Department of Transportation also canceled some planned lane closures along Interstate 95 to facilitate evacuations, WTOP Radio reported.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency earlier this week in anticipation of Dorian’s impact on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast.
Meanwhile in the Bahamas, where Dorian wreaked havoc as a Category 5 storm, details about the devastation continued to emerge, including an official death toll of 20, which officials said they expect will rise.
The International Red Cross said 45% of the homes on Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands, roughly 13,000 properties, have been severely damaged or destroyed.
U.N. officials were quoted by the BBC as saying that 60,000 people will need food and water. The island nation has a population of about 400,000.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.
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