The Latest: Feds grant North Carolina disaster declaration

Tom Miles, with C&T Trade Group, works to board up a home along East Beach Street Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019, in Oak Island, N.C., as Hurricane Dorian approaches the east coast. (Ken Blevins/The Star-News via AP)
CORRECTS TO SAY HURRICANE IRMA OCCURRED IN 2017, NOT LAST YEAR - Tom Sikes, right, helps his friend Joey Spalding, left, fill sandbags at Spalding's home in Tybee Island, Ga., Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, before the potential arrival of Hurricane Dorian. Spalding's home was flooded by Hurricane Irma in 2017, when he got three feet of water from the storm surge. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
This aerial photo provided by Medic Corps, shows the destruction brought by Hurricane Dorian on Man-o-War cay, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept.3, 2019. Relief officials reported scenes of utter ruin in parts of the Bahamas and rushed to deal with an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm on record ever to hit the islands. (Medic Corps via AP)
People stand on the boardwalk along the Atlantic Ocean at night as the outer bands of Hurricane Dorian reach Vero Beach, Fla., Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The National Hurricane Center extended watches and warnings across the Florida and Georgia coasts Monday. Forecasters expected Dorian to stay off shore, but meteorologist Daniel Brown cautioned that “only a small deviation” could draw the storm’s dangerous core toward land. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A lone employee strolls across the terminal area as Orlando International Airport is closed on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 ahead of Hurricane Dorian. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
A family walks on a road after being rescued from the flood waters of Hurricane Dorian, near Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019. They were rescued by volunteers who drove a bus into the flood waters to pick them up. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Strong winds move the palms of the palm trees at the first moment of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sunday Sept. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Matthew Aylen wades through waist deep water as he is rescued from his flooded home during Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. Practically parking over the Bahamas for a day and a half, Dorian pounded away at the islands Tuesday in a watery onslaught that devastated thousands of homes, trapped people in attics and crippled hospitals. Matthew Aylen is the son of Photojournalist Tim Aylen, author of this photo. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)
Rage Binns, of Savannah, Ga., passes the time playing a ukulele at the Red Cross shelter at Trinity On The Hill United Methodist Church, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, in Augusta, Ga., where Hurricane Dorian evacuees are being sheltered. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)
This Sept. 2, 2019 photo provided by NASA shows the eye of Hurricane Dorian shown from the International Space Station. (Nick Hague/NASA via AP)
Kay Fitzgerald, right, of Savannah, Ga., passes the time playing cards Trinity On The Hill United Methodist Church, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 in Augusta, Ga., where Hurricane Dorian evacuees are being sheltered. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)
Red Cross volunteer Thomas Patterson hangs a sign outside Trinity On The Hill United Methodist Church, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 in Augusta, Ga., where Hurricane Dorian evacuees are being sheltered. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)
Resident and business owner Karen Kelly takes some time off to experience the heavy surf in advance of Hurricane Dorian, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, in Tybee Island, Ga. The state issued a mandatory evacuation along the coast of Georgia on Sunday well before the storm's expected arrival. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
This aerial photo provided by Medic Corps, shows the destruction brought by Hurricane Dorian on Man-o-War cay, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept.3, 2019. Relief officials reported scenes of utter ruin in parts of the Bahamas and rushed to deal with an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm on record ever to hit the islands. (Medic Corps via AP)
Paula Peterson, of Casselberry, Fla., hugs her dog 'Little Lola' while waiting out the weather from Hurricane Dorian, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, at a storm shelter set up at Lyman High School in Longwood, Fla., near Orlando. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
The Gator Hole Along Hwy 133 is advertising water and propane, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019 in Oak Island, N.C. as residents make preparations as Hurricane Dorian approaches the east coast. (Ken Blevins/The Star-News via AP)
A beach goer climbs the stairs near the Juno Beach Pier as Hurricane Dorian crawls toward Florida while the storm continues to ravage the Bahamas on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald via AP)
Florida resident Shane Miller collects a toy for his dog Junior inside the families tent at the campgrounds inside the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., Tuesday, Sept. 3,2019. Shane, his mother Roberta Patterson and his younger sister Hali Patterson did not have time to pack much before they left their house in Melbourne, Fla., to flee Hurricane Dorian. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Leonard Baker, left, looks on as his dog Chick is loaded on a bus as they and other locals board buses at Lanier Plaza to leave the area under mandatory evacuation ahead of Hurricane Dorian, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, in Brunswick, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Glynn County school resource officer Mark Hooper, left, and school support staff member Sheree Armstrong, right, help Elizabeth Scales board a special needs bus at Lanier Plaza as hundreds of local residents evacuate the area under mandatory evacuation ahead of Hurricane Dorian, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, in Brunswick, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Matthew Aylen wades through waist deep water as he is rescued from his flooded home during Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. Practically parking over the Bahamas for a day and a half, Dorian pounded away at the islands Tuesday in a watery onslaught that devastated thousands of homes, trapped people in attics and crippled hospitals. Matthew Aylen is the son of Photojournalist Tim Aylen, author of this photo. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)
Workers board up Yaupon Dunes Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019 in Oak Island, N.C. while residents make preparations as Hurricane Dorian approaches the east coast. (Ken Blevins/The Star-News via AP)
A boat thrown onshore by the Hurricane Dorian lays stranded next to a highway near Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019. Relief officials reported scenes of utter ruin in parts of the Bahamas and rushed to deal with an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm on record ever to hit the islands. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Volunteers walk under the wind and rain from Hurricane Dorian through a flooded road as they work to rescue families near the Causarina bridge in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. The storm’s punishing winds and muddy brown floodwaters devastated thousands of homes, crippled hospitals and trapped people in attics. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Strong winds from Hurricane Dorian blow the tops of trees and brush while whisking up water from the surface of a canal that leads to the sea, located behind the brush at top, seen from the balcony of a hotel in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. Hurricane Dorian hovered over the Bahamas on Monday, pummeling the islands with a fearsome Category 4 assault that forced even rescue crews to take shelter until the onslaught passes. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Lionel Prevera boards up a beachfront home in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, as residents make preparations for Hurricane Dorian. (Matt Born/The Star-News via AP)
Carolyn Seckinger, left, who has a second home in Savannah, Ga., watches Hurricane Dorian coverage at the The Partridge Inn , Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 in Augusta, Ga. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)
A man talks on his mobile phone next to a catamaran that was thrown onshore by the Hurricane Dorian near highway close Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019. Relief officials reported scenes of utter ruin in parts of the Bahamas and rushed to deal with an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm on record ever to hit the islands. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Cars sit submerged in water from Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. Dorian is beginning to inch northwestward after being stationary over the Bahamas, where its relentless winds have caused catastrophic damage and flooding.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Guests leave the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., after the park closed early due to weather spawned by Hurricane Dorian. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
Red Cross volunteers Robin Barfield, left, and Jim Faxon load bottled water at Trinity On The Hill United Methodist Church, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 in Augusta, Ga., where Hurricane Dorian evacuees are being sheltered. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)
Marion Eason finishes up putting the hurricane shutters on a house in Kure Beach N.C., , Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, as residents make preparations for Hurricane Dorian. (Matt Born/The Star-News via AP)
Glynn County school resource officer Mark Hooper, left, and school support staff member Sheree Armstrong, right, help Elizabeth Scales board a special needs bus at Lanier Plaza as hundreds of local residents evacuate the area under mandatory evacuation ahead of Hurricane Dorian, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, in Brunswick, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Julia Aylen wades through waist deep water carrying her pet dog as she is rescued from her flooded home during Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. Practically parking over the Bahamas for a day and a half, Dorian pounded away at the islands Tuesday in a watery onslaught that devastated thousands of homes, trapped people in attics and crippled hospitals. Julia Aylen is the daughter of Photojournalist Tim Aylen, author of this photo. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)
People walk the shoreline of Juno Beach near the pier under high gust winds as Hurricane Dorian crawls toward Florida while the Category 4 storm continues to ravage the Bahamas on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald via AP)
Jared Rogers, from left, Christine Bright, Stephen Bright and Marie Rogers board up a Family Dollar story in Wilmington, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, as residents make preparations for Hurricane Dorian. (Matt Born/The Star-News via AP)
A woman who was trapped by flood waters during Hurricane Dorian is transported out of the area by volunteers on a jet ski near the Causarina bridge in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. The storm’s punishing winds and muddy brown floodwaters devastated thousands of homes, crippled hospitals and trapped people in attics. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
This GOES-16, GeoColor satellite image taken Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, at 17:10 UTC and provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Hurricane Dorian moving off the east coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean. (NOAA via AP)
The terminal is empty as Orlando International Airport is closed on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 ahead of Hurricane Dorian. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
A catamaran thrown onshore by the hurricane lays stranded near a highway close to Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019. Relief officials reported scenes of utter ruin in parts of the Bahamas and rushed to deal with an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm on record ever to hit the islands. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A monitor indicates all flights are cancelled as Orlando International Airport is closed on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 ahead of Hurricane Dorian. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
A boat thrown onshore by the Hurricane Dorian lays stranded next to a highway near Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019. Relief officials reported scenes of utter ruin in parts of the Bahamas and rushed to deal with an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm on record ever to hit the islands. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A line of people board a charter bus at Savannah's Civic Center to an inland shelter as residents evacuate from Hurricane Dorian, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, in Savannah, Ga. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News via AP)
Guests leave the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., after the park closed early due to weather spawned by Hurricane Dorian. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
Wylie Barns and Alex Stewart fill sandbags, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019, in Oak Island, N.C. while residents make preparations as Hurricane Dorian approaches the east coast. (Ken Blevins/The Star-News via AP)
The security screening stations are empty as Orlando International Airport is closed on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 ahead of Hurricane Dorian. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
Juna Beach residents Anneka, 8, left, and sister, Breanna, 10, right, along with their mother, Leah Hanza, center, get a close look of the waves crashing against the Juno Beach Pier as Hurricane Dorian crawls toward Florida, and it continues to ravage the Bahamas on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald via AP)
Surfers take advantage of waves at Anglin's Fishing Pier in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Fla., Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, as Hurricane Dorian crawls toward Florida, while the storm continues to ravage the Bahamas. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)
Volunteers help a wheelchair bound man onto a charter bus at Savannah's Civic Center as residents evacuate from Hurricane Dorian, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, in Savannah, Ga. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News via AP)

FREEPORT, Bahamas — The Latest on Hurricane Dorian (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

The federal government has granted a request for a federal disaster declaration for North Carolina in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian's impact on the state.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper requested the federal declaration on Sept. 2. Cooper says North Carolina has faced difficult storms before and is preparing for Hurricane Dorian to track up the Southeast coast this week.

Says Cooper: "We're taking every precaution to make sure we're prepared." The governor adds: "I appreciate the support of our federal partners in making sure our state is ready to respond to whatever Hurricane Dorian brings."

The U.S. National Hurricane Center adjusted its forecast tracks Tuesday, putting Dorian closer to the South and North Carolina coasts later in the week. Earlier this week Dorian pummeled parts of the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane, leaving widespread devastation and at least seven people dead.

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8:40 p.m.

The prime minister of the Bahamas says the death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to seven and that more deaths are expected.

Hubert Minnis says the deaths involved two people who were injured earlier and taken to New Providence Island. He spoke late Tuesday at a news conference.

Minnis said he flew over the Abaco Islands and expects to do the same in Grand Bahama as soon as the weather clears.

In Abaco, he saw groups of people waving yellow sheets and shirts. He said 60 percent of homes were damaged in Marsh Harbor and that at least one community was completely destroyed.

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8 p.m.

Dorian is scraping the central part of Florida's east coast as it tracks offshore.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian is now about 110 miles (180 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral, Florida. Maximum sustained winds are being clocked at 110 mph (175 kph). It's moving to the northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).

Dorian virtually stalled over the northwestern Bahamas in recent days as a Category 5 storm that caused widespread devastation in parts of the island archipelago. It was the most powerful hurricane on record ever to hit the Bahamas. At least five deaths were reported there though the full scope of the disaster still remains unknown.

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7:30 p.m.

Richard Halpern, of Bonita Springs, Florida, has a condo in Port Lucaya, Grand Bahama and waited out Hurricane Dorian for days in his second-floor unit.

Halpern says the noise from the storm was "very loud and constant." He adds: "These are noises you never want to hear in your life. This lingered for such a long time that no one could be prepared for that."

Halpern says his area was one of the few not hit by the storm surge from Dorian. But he says not far away, "we have friends who had to walk out of their homes in waist high water."

Halpern and his wife are without power and without water and haven't figured out a way to travel out of the island.

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6 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian is now pulling away from the northwestern Bahamas and beginning to scrape Florida's east coast with its winds and rain.

Forecasters say Dorian was centered at 6 p.m. EDT Tuesday about 125 miles (200 kilometers) east of Melbourne, Florida. It has top sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm is moving to the northwest at 6 mph (9 kph), tracking offshore and nearly parallel to Florida's Atlantic shoreline.

Dorian virtually stalled over the northwestern Bahamas in recent days as a Category 5 storm that caused widespread devastation in parts of the island archipelago. It was the most powerful hurricane on record ever to hit the islands. At least five deaths were reported though the full scope of the disaster still remains uncertain.

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5:45 p.m.

Some of the first post-storm images out of Grand Bahama are showing children and elderly people huddled in the shovel of a huge bulldozer as it evacuates them to a safer area.

Practically parking over the Bahamas for a day and a half, Hurricane Dorian pounded the islands and left widespread devastation to thousands of homes earlier this week. Many people were reported trapped in their homes by high waters from what was then an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm.

Rescuers began evacuating people late Tuesday using jet skis, boats. They even brought in the large bulldozer, which carried people through deep muddy waters to safety. Many had their heads bowed down by still-heavy wind and rain.

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5:50 p.m.

Universal Orlando Resort is closing its theme parks in Florida early for the day because of Hurricane Dorian.

The theme park resort says its two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, were shutting as of 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Other theme parks in Orlando had already made plans to close early or not open at all.

SeaWorld was closed Tuesday because of Dorian. And Walt Disney World closed its four theme parks by mid-afternoon Tuesday.

Forecasters say Dorian was centered Tuesday afternoon about 125 miles (200 kilometers) east of Melbourne, Florida with top sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) as a Category 2 hurricane. It's moving to the northwest offshore from Florida's east coast.

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5:35 p.m.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says the latest forecast information indicates his state's coastline could be hit with winds up to 60 mph (95 kph) winds and storm surges of 4 to 7 feet (1.2 meters to 2 meters) as Dorian approaches.

Kemp had previously ordered evacuations of the coast and said light traffic counts coming out of the area so far concern him.

"I'm hoping a lot of people are waiting until tonight or first thing in the morning," Kemp said Tuesday as Dorian approached the Southeast seacoast as a Category 2 hurricane.

State meteorologist Will Lanxton says forecasters cannot yet say when the worst of the storm surge will hit.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center recently adjusted its forecast tracks, putting Dorian closer to the South and North Carolina coasts later in the week. Earlier this week Dorian pummeled parts of the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm, leaving widespread devastation.

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5:15 p.m.

More than a quarter-million visitors and residents have been told to leave North Carolina's coastal region ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

The most populous coastal county to be evacuated is Dare County, where 250,000 people, including 36,000 residents, have been told to get out.

In New Hanover County, where flooding cut off the city of Wilmington during last year's Hurricane Florence, officials said they didn't expect a similar issue from Dorian. They say the storm isn't expected to dump as much rain and the ground isn't as saturated as it was last year.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center adjusted its forecast tracks on Tuesday putting Dorian closer to the South and North Carolina coasts. Forecasters noted that even if Dorian doesn't make landfall, it's likely to bring dangerous winds, life-threatening storm surge and flooding rains to parts of the Carolinas.

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5 p.m.

Winds are increasing along parts of Florida's East Coast as Hurricane Dorian tracks offshore in the Atlantic.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the Category 2 storm was centered at about 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday about 105 miles (170 kilometers) east of Vero Beach, Florida. Top sustained winds are at 110 mph (175 kph) and Dorian is moving to the northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).

Forecasters say Dorian is expected to move dangerously close to the coast of Florida and Georgia from Tuesday night through Wednesday night before menacing the coast of the Carolinas Thursday and Friday.

The hurricane center has adjusted its forecast tracks closer to the coasts of South and North Carolina, noting "a track that close to the coast, even if landfall does not occur, is likely to bring dangerous winds, life-threatening storm surge, and flooding rains across the eastern portions of the Carolinas."

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4:55 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center has extended a hurricane warning from Savannah River to Edisto Beach, South Carolina and from the South Santee River in South Carolina to Surf City, North Carolina. Storm surge warnings have been extended to Surf City.

A storm surge watch has been expanded northward to Duck, North Carolina. A hurricane watch now extends to the North Carolina/Virginia border and tropical storm watch now reaches to the Chincoteague, Virginia, and for the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay, from Smith Point southward. The hurricane warning from Sebastian Inlet to Jupiter Inlet in Florida has been reduced to a tropical storm warning and tropical storm warnings south of there have been dropped.

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4 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian has begun lashing parts of Florida's east coast with tropical storm force winds.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian remains a Category 2 storm moving nearly parallel to Florida's east coast but offshore. It said that as of 4 p.m. EDT Tuesday, a sustained wind gust of 60 mph (95 kph) was reported recently at a weather station in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

The eye of Dorian continues to move away from Grand Bahama Island after leaving widespread devastation in parts of the Bahamas. Dorian's center is now about 105 miles (165 kilometers) east of Fort Pierce, Florida. Its top sustained winds are now at 110 mph (175 kph). The storm is moving northwest at 5 mph (7 kph).

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3:50 p.m.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry Division is assisting with a mandatory evacuation for visitors on Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks.

The division evacuated 984 passengers and transported 498 vehicles from Ocracoke Island between 5 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday. The Ferry Division will help evacuate Ocracoke Island residents starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday. The ferries serving Ocracoke will be suspended Wednesday afternoon.

North Carolina's governor has waived ferry fees for the evacuation.

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3:35 p.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says Hurricane Dorian is still expected to bring life-threatening storm surges even as it was downgraded to a category 2 hurricane.

FEMA Associate Administrator Carlos Castillo said Tuesday that residents along the U.S. East Coast should be prepared to evacuate if necessary and should heed evacuation orders from local officials.

He says: "Don't tough it out, get out."

Castillo says FEMA has over 1,600 employees deployed or on the way to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The American Red Cross says they've already opened 170 shelters and evacuation centers. Over 13,000 people are already at those facilities.

The National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard say they have also readied troops and are ready to respond once the storm hits.

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3:35 p.m.

The U.S. military is taking precautions as Hurricane Dorian threatens ships and planes based on Virginia's coast.

U.S. Air Force Col. David Lopez said in a statement Tuesday that F-22 Raptor fighter jets and T-38 Talon training planes will leave Langley Air Force Base in Hampton. The planes will fly to the Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base outside Columbus, Ohio.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy is ordering ships on Virginia's coast to prepare to leave if necessary. Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis said in a statement that ships at the world's largest Navy base in Norfolk and other nearby installations will be ready to depart within 24 hours.

By heading out to sea, the ships will better protect themselves and reduce significant potential damage to piers, airplanes and other infrastructure.

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2:50 p.m.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed some relief that Hurricane Dorian's track changed before hitting the state, but he warned residents near the coast to follow local emergency officials' instructions for evacuations.

DeSantis said that over the last week-and-a-half, Dorian forecasts had potentially all 67 counties in its path and people should stay safe and remain vigilant over the coming days.

Meanwhile in South Carolina, officials say nearly a quarter-million people have evacuated from that state's coast ahead of Dorian.

Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said Tuesday that a total of 244,000 people have headed South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster's order to leave the state's coast and head inland. That's nearly a third of the total of about 800,000 people officials have said they believed to be in the evacuation zone, which includes the state's entire coast.

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2:50 p.m.

Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy told reporters Tuesday it's too early to tell what U.S. military forces may be needed to help the Bahamas, which has suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Dorian .

He said the hospital ship USNS Comfort is a four or five day sail away and could be used for medical assistance. He said the military is also prepared to provide engineering, transportation and other help to reopen airports and fix the airfields.

O'Shaughnessy says the USS Bataan and its amphibious ready group, with thousands of sailors and Marines aboard, are also off the coast of North Carolina and could be used if needed.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has already authorized 14 days of support to the Bahamas if needed. The U.S. Coast Guard is already providing logistics and search and rescue aid in the Bahamas, and has six helicopters there so far.

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2:15 p.m.

The center of Hurricane Dorian is finally moving away from Grand Bahama island but the U.S. National Hurricane Center says the island will continue getting dangerous winds and life-threatening storm surge through the evening.

Dorian's maximum sustained winds Tuesday afternoon remain at 110 mph (175 kph), making it a Category 2 hurricane.

The hurricane is centered about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Freeport and is moving northwest near 5 mph (7 kph).

Practically parking over the Bahamas for a day and a half, Dorian has been pounding the islands in a watery onslaught that devastated thousands of homes, trapped people in attics and crippled hospitals.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Fernand has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, prompting a tropical storm warning for Mexico's northeast coast.

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2 p.m.

As Hurricane Dorian pounds the Bahamas, a new tropical storm has formed in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical Storm Fernand formed Tuesday afternoon, prompting a tropical storm warning for Mexico's northeast coast.

The storm's maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph (65 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says slow strengthening is expected before the storm moves inland. It's centered about 160 miles (255 kilometers) east of La Pesca, Mexico, and is moving west near 7 mph (11 kph).

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1:30 p.m.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is reporting light traffic on the interstate highway being used as a one-way evacuation route for coastal residents fleeing Hurricane Dorian .

State officials Tuesday morning turned all lanes of Interstate 16 into an eastbound route from Savannah on the coast to Dublin about 100 miles (160 kilometers) inland.

The state DOT said in a news release the route was seeing "light traffic" Tuesday afternoon and cars were "running at the speed limit."

The agency urged coastal residents to evacuate before traffic on I-16 increased. Forecasters expect Dorian to approach coastal Georgia on Wednesday, most likely with the storm's center staying offshore.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ordered a mandatory evacuation for the entire Georgia coast beginning Monday. Roughly 540,000 people live in the state's six coastal counties.

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1:30 p.m.

Officials in the South Carolina city of Charleston are mulling putting a prohibition on price gouging info effect as residents continue to evacuate the coast ahead of Hurricane Dorian .

City officials said they would meet later Tuesday to consider two emergency ordinances designed to prohibit price gouging and enable emergency road closures.

Anti-price gouging measures are often considered to protect motorists scrambling to move inland ahead of storms. Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered evacuations along South Carolina's coast, reversing a major interstate so that all lanes lead inland from Charleston, to accommodate more drivers.

Many areas of Charleston's historic downtown peninsula regularly flood with rising tides, a situation expected to become worse as the storm and its rainfall approach. City officials said they expected tides to increase significantly Wednesday afternoon into Thursday.

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12 p.m.

Officials in northeastern Florida are urging people to stay away from the beaches due to possible storm surge from Hurricane Dorian .

Flagler County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord said Tuesday that waves of up to 20 feet (6 meters) are expected along the area's Atlantic beaches as the storm moves toward the north.

He says there can still be "life-threatening if not deadly conditions at the beach."

Lord said storm surge is expected along the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.

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12 p.m.

Two Florida men have been arrested for stealing sandbags meant for Hurricane Dorian preparations.

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that Thaylon Lewis and Joseph Colombo Jr. were arrested Monday evening after a deputy spotted one man taking the sandbags from a highway overpass and the other acting as a lookout.

Lewis is charged with theft during a declared state of emergency, a third-degree felony. Colombo was also arrested for an injunction violation for possessing a firearm, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Online court records show no attorneys listed for the men.

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11 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian has weakened to a Category 2 storm as it continues to batter the Bahamas with life-threatening storm surge.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian's maximum sustained winds decreased Tuesday morning to near 110 mph (175 kph). But it's expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days.

Dorian is centered about 45 miles (70 kilometers) north of Freeport in the Bahamas and is moving northwest near 2 mph (4 kph).

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9:35 a.m.

Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands tells The Associated Press that Hurricane Dorian devastated the health infrastructure in Grand Bahama island and massive flooding has rendered the main hospital unusable.

He said Tuesday that the storm caused less severe damage in the neighboring Abaco islands and he hopes to send an advanced medical team there soon.

Sands said the main hospital in Marsh Harbor is intact and sheltering 400 people but needs food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He also said crews are trying to airlift between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco who haven't received dialysis since Friday.

Dorian hit Abaco on Sunday with sustained winds of 185 mph (295 kph) and gusts up to 220 mph (355 kph), a strength matched only by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. The storm then hovered over Grand Bahama for a day and a half.

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9:20 a.m.

United Nations officials estimate more than 60,000 people in the northwest Bahamas will need food following the devastation left by Hurricane Dorian .

A spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program said Tuesday that a team is ready to help the Bahamian government assess storm damage and prioritize needs. Herve Verhoosel says preliminary calculations show that 45,700 people in Grand Bahama island may need food, along with another 14,500 in the neighboring Abaco islands.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says some 62,000 people also will need access to clean drinking water. Matthew Cochrane says about 45% of homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco were severely damaged or destroyed and the organization will help 20,000 of the most vulnerable people, including a large Haitian community.

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8:25 a.m.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he ordered evacuations along the length of his state's coast, which includes several low-lying islands, because if there is flooding on causeways, they won't be able to get vehicles on or off the islands.

Kemp told Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends" on Tuesday morning that he's expecting Hurricane Dorian to batter Georgia with heavy winds, severe flooding, a storm surge and beach erosion.

He said a reverse traffic or "contraflow" on Interstate 16 begins Tuesday morning.

The Category 3 storm has been battering the Bahamas, causing extensive damage and flooding.

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8:05 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian is beginning to inch northwestward after being stationary over the Bahamas, where its relentless winds have caused catastrophic damage and flooding.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm has started moving about 1 mph (2 kph) Tuesday morning and its speed is expected to increase slightly later in the day.

Dorian's maximum sustained winds remain near 120 mph (195 kph), making it a major Category 3 hurricane.

The storm is centered about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Freeport in the Bahamas.

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2 a.m.

Dorian has weakened to a Category 3 hurricane but continues to batter the Bahamas as it remains almost at a standstill.

At 2:00 a.m. EDT Tuesday, the ferocious storm's center was about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Freeport Grand Bahama Island. It has barely budged from that position since Monday afternoon.

But its wind speeds lessened slightly to 120 mph (193 kph) with higher gusts. That was down from 130 mph (209 kph) Monday evening.

The hurricane is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The National Hurricane center said Dorian is expected to move "dangerously close" to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening and then move north to coastal Georgia and South Carolina on Wednesday night and Thursday.

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For AP's complete coverage of the hurricane: https://apnews.com/Hurricanes .

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