Dorian is expected to remain a hurricane as it sweeps up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard through Saturday after battering the Carolinas earlier in the week.
At 5 a.m. ET, the storm’s centre in the Atlantic Ocean was west of Philadelphia and heading north toward Massachusetts — 660 kilometres southwest of Halifax on a track that will see it make landfall in or near the city by Saturday evening.
Maximum sustained winds were near 140 km/h with higher gusts, making it a Category 1 hurricane. Some slight weakening is forecast, but Dorian is expected to move over Nova Scotia with hurricane-force winds.
As the sky cleared and floodwaters receded in North Carolina on Saturday, residents of the state’s Outer Banks began to assess the damage wrought by Dorian to the islands.
Steve Harris has lived on Ocracoke Island for most of the last 19 years. He’s ridden out eight hurricanes, but he said he’d never seen a storm bring such devastation to his community, which is accessible only by boat or air and is popular with tourists for its undeveloped beaches.
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“We just thought it was gonna be a normal blow,” Harris, a semi-retired contractor, said Friday. “But the damage is going to be severe this time. This is flooding of biblical proportions.”
Harris lost his car to the storm and his air conditioning is damaged, but he said he’s blessed that his condominium is on the third floor and he is insured. Of the 11 units in his complex, seven had water in them, he said.
Gov. Roy Cooper said about 800 people had remained on the island to wait out Dorian.
The storm made landfall Friday morning over the Outer Banks as a far weaker storm than the monster that devastated the Bahamas. Yet despite having been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, it still sent seawater surging over neighbourhoods, flooding the first floors of many homes.
“There is significant concern about hundreds of people trapped on Ocracoke Island,” Cooper said.
At least four deaths in the Southeast were blamed on Dorian. All were men in Florida or North Carolina who died in falls or by electrocution while trimming trees, putting up storm shutters or otherwise getting ready for the hurricane.
As Dorian closed in, more than a quarter-million residents and visitors were ordered to evacuate the Outer Banks, which stick out from the Eastern Seaboard like the sideview mirror on a car. But many just tied down their boats, removed objects that could blow away from their yards, and hunkered down.
Dorian slammed the Bahamas at the start of the week with 295 km/h winds, killing at least 43 people and obliterating countless homes. From there, it swept past Florida and Georgia, then sideswiped the Carolinas on Thursday, spinning off tornadoes that peeled away roofs and flipped recreational vehicles.
Watch Facebook video taken on Ocracoke Island Friday morning:
Still, the damage was far less than feared in many parts of the Carolinas, including historic Charleston, South Carolina, which is prone to flooding even from ordinary storms, and Wilmington, North Carolina, the state’s biggest coastal city.
“Right now, it appears we’ve had no loss of life,” Harris said of Ocracoke. “We’re trying to make sure everybody is safe, but it’s going to be a long recovery.”