Parts of Georgia and South Carolina are being evacuated as Hurricane Dorian moves closer.
The Georgia order covers roughly 540,000 people in six communities on the state’s 100-mile coast.
In South Carolina around 830,000 people in eight coastal communities are affected. Earlier, people living in vulnerable parts of Florida’s coast were also told to flee their homes.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said: “We can’t make everybody happy, but we believe we can keep everyone alive.”
Dorian, a category five hurricane, has maximum sustained winds of 185mph and gusts up to 220mph, making it one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes to arrive on land.
It has already caused major damage in the Bahamas, with roofs ripped from homes, cars overturned and power lines torn down. The National Hurricane Center has described the storm as “life-threatening”.
The Abaco Islands, in the northern Bahamas, saw storm surges of 18-23ft (5.5-7m) and Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said that in some parts of Abaco “you cannot tell the difference as to the beginning of the street versus where the ocean begins”.
Joy Jibrilu, director general of the Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, said the scene was “devastating”, adding: “There has been huge damage to property and infrastructure. Luckily, no loss of life reported.”
Samuel Butler, assistant police commissioner, had warned residents as the hurricane approached: “The end could be fatal. “We ask you, we beg you, we plead with you to get to a place of safety.”
Silbert Mills, owner of the Bahamas Christian Network, said: “The winds are howling like we’ve never, ever experienced before”, adding that he planned to outlast the hurricane with his family in the concrete home he built 41 years ago in central Abaco.
Dorian is moving west at just 6mph but its path is hard to predict as winds are expected to grow.
At about 4am UK time, the hurricane was about 135 miles from the Florida coast but there are indications Florida and Georgia could be spared from the worst on Tuesday and Wednesday before South Carolina and North Carolina are hit on Thursday.
Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis warned the state’s residents not to get complacent, adding that some forecasts showed Dorian coming close to – or even hitting – the Florida peninsula.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said.
The National Hurricane Center said: “On this track, the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will continue to pound Great Abaco and Grand Bahama islands tonight and Monday.
“The hurricane will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late Monday through Tuesday night.”
Source: SKY NEWS