Dorian lashes the Carolinas with driving rain and fierce winds after devastating the Bahamas and killing at least 30 people.
Officials in the Bahamas say the country's death toll from Hurricane Dorian has increased to 30.
Bahamian Health Minister Duane Sands told The Associated Press in a phone interview late on Thursday that he expects that number to be "significantly higher" in upcoming days as crews continue search and rescue missions.
Sands said the victims are from Grand Bahama and the Abaco islands and includes those who were injured and airlifted to New Providence island.
Dorian has weakened somewhat to a Category 1 storm, but forecasters say the threat posed to the southeastern US coast hasn't abated.
The hurricane hit the Abaco islands on Sunday as a Category 5 storm and then hovered over Grand Bahama for a day and a half as a Category 4 storm.
Dorian is currently 55 miles (89 kilometres) east of Wilmington, North Carolina, and 30 miles (48 kilometres) south-southwest of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, and moving northeast at 15 mph (24 kph). The US National Hurricane Center in Miami says that general motion is expected to continue, with an increase in speed through Saturday.
A storm surge warning has been discontinued south of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, but flooding remains possible in parts of North Carolina depending on the tide and the storm's distance from the coast.
Floodwaters rise on Carolina's streets
Deserted, rain-lashed streets in Charleston, South Carolina, vanished beneath water on Friday as Hurricane Dorian churned a few dozen miles offshore after reducing parts of the Bahamas to rubble.
Water pooled a few inches deep near the centuries-old waterfront.
In certain low-lying blocks, it rose to a foot or more, as high tide approached and forecasters warned of storm surges of up to 2 metres.
Journalist Jay Gray reports from North Carolina, where Hurricane Dorian has made landfall pic.twitter.com/nPBt0jkOAc— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) September 5, 2019
Officials said Thursday afternoon that more than 18 cm of rain had fallen in parts of Charleston.
Dorian was about 80 kilometres off Charleston on Thursday, wavering in strength between a Category 2 and 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale. It was forecast to possibly make landfall in North Carolina late Thursday or early Friday.
Life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds were possible in much of the coast of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, the National Weather Service said.
Dorian whipped up at least three tornados in the region, officials said. One in North Carolina damaged scores of trailers in a camp ground in Emerald Isle, but no one was injured, North Carolina's News & Observer reported.
Governors in the region declared states of emergency, closed schools, opened shelters, readied national guard troops and implored residents to take warnings seriously, as fresh images of the devastation wrought by the storm in the Bahamas earlier this week continued to circulate in the media.
At least 70,000 Bahamians needed immediate humanitarian relief after Dorian became the most damaging storm ever to hit the island nation.
In the Carolinas alone, more than 900,000 people had been ordered to evacuate their homes.
It was unclear how many did so.
In Kill Devil Hills, in North Carolina's Outer Banks, Mark Jennings decided to ignore the order, lining his garage door with sandbags and boarding up his home with plywood.
The retired firefighter planned to stay put with his wife and two dogs: "We are ready to go. If something happens, we can still get out of here."
A new aerial video shows the catastrophic destruction and chaos in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian pic.twitter.com/vNwkXtgMrW— TRT World (@trtworld) September 4, 2019
At least four deaths in US
At least four storm-related deaths have already been reported. Three people died in Orange County, Florida, during storm preparations or evacuation, according to the Orange County mayor's office.
In North Carolina, an 85-year-old man fell off a ladder while barricading his home for Dorian, the governor said.
More than 210,000 homes and businesses were without power in South Carolina and Georgia early on Thursday, according to local electric companies.
On Charleston's historic South Battery Street, which runs down to the harbor, Brys Stephens tried to keep the water away from his stately home, built in the veranda-wrapped Southern style that lures crowds of tourists to the city.
He and his family pumped water out of the yard and tried to reattach metal flood gates into the perimeter wall.
"The gates worked pretty well so far and we've managed to keep water away from the house," Stephens said. "But we've got another storm surge coming later on, so we'll see then if it holds."