Category 2 Hurricane Dorian lashing Florida's East Coast

Category 2 Hurricane Dorian lashing Florida's East Coast

While its winds had diminished to a category two storm, Dorian expanded in size and picked up speed on Tuesday (local time). "It's not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again".

The state could experience unsafe winds and flooding.

NASA satellite imagery through Monday night showed some spots in the Bahamas had gotten as much as 35 inches (890mm) of rain, said private meteorologist Ryan Maue. They have been urging people to hang on. The correspondent said he had spoken to a man whose wife had died of hypothermia after being trapped in their flooded home for hours and others who said they had watched people swept away by the storm surge.

The extent of flooding caused by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas has been highlighted by a video of a major airport underwater.

It pounded the northern islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama with winds up to 295 kilometres per hour and torrential rain before finally moving into open waters on Tuesday (local time) on a course for the USA state of Florida.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Florida, Georgia and SC were ordered to evacuate before the storm rolls up the Eastern Seaboard, bringing the possibility of life-threatening storm-surge flooding even if the storm's heart stays offshore, as forecast. FEMA has over 1,600 employees deployed or on the way to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and SC.

More than 13,000 houses, or about 45 per cent of the homes in Grand Bahama and the hard-hit Abaco Island, are believed to have been severely damaged or destroyed, according to a representative of Red Cross. "Get out", said U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency official Carlos Castillo.

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The Red Cross authorized $500,000 for the first wave of disaster relief, Cochrane said.

Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, with a combined population of about 70,000, are known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts.

The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people injured on Abaco. Choppy, coffee-colored floodwaters reached roofs and the tops of palm trees. He said crews were trying to fly out five to seven kidney failure patients from Abaco who had not received dialysis since Friday.

"We are hoping and praying that the loss of life is limited", he said.

Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas at unprecedented intensity for that island nation, and as the most intense storm on record at landfall in the North Atlantic Ocean Basin.

Scientists say climate change generally has been fuelling more powerful and wetter storms, and the only recorded hurricane more powerful than Dorian was Allen in 1980, with 305kmh winds, though it did not hit land at that strength. The airport on Grand Bahama was on Tuesday said to be under 6ft (1.8m) of water.

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