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Hurricane Dorian’s death toll rises to 20 as it now charges up the southeastern U.S. coast

As sunshine returned to the northern Bahamas on Wednesday, residents and authorities surveyed the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, overwhelmed by incredible destruction from Hurricane Dorian, which also took at least 20 lives.

Dorian pulverized the islands for two days, hurling catastrophic winds and relentless rain. It was the strongest storm ever to make landfall in the country.

At least 20 people died in the northern Bahamas, according to the Bahamian Minister of Health Duane Sands. The minister said that 17 people died on Abaco Islands and three on Grand Bahama Island — and there was little doubt the death toll would climb higher.

The damage is immense and will require a massive recovery and relief effort. The only airport on the island of Grand Bahama was ripped apart by Dorian.

“It’s gone. … The level of devastation is actually breathtaking. There are no walls left at the airport. The ceiling has come crashing. The runway field is now a debris field,” CNN reporter Patrick Oppmann said from the scene Wednesday.

The powerful storm was charging up the southeast U.S. coast. Dorian, now back up to a Category 3, might make landfall as it inches closer to the Carolinas — and South Carolina’s governor is warning that the time to evacuate will soon be over.

Dorian on Wednesday was hovering just off the coast of Florida and southern Georgia, pummeling the Sunshine State to Savannah to South Carolina with rain.

A hurricane warning was in effect for the entire South Carolina and North Carolina coastline, which is set to face the brunt of the storm and a dangerous storm surge of up to 8 feet.

One storm-related death already struck North Carolina. An 85-year-old man fell off a ladder while preparing his Columbus County home for Dorian, Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday.

Evacuations were ordered from Florida’s east coast to North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Dorian was forecast to pass Savannah, Georgia overnight Wednesday into Thursday, bringing powerful wind gusts and dangerous storm surge.

The storm will then come close to Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday. Authorities in Charleston are urging the residents who chose not to evacuate to stay off the roads; authorities said during a storm last year, 40 people were rescues from flooded cars.

From Charleston, the storm will approach Myrtle Beach then North Carolina’s coast. North Carolina’s Outer Banks will get hit late Thursday into Friday morning.

Landfall in possible in coastal South Carolina or North Carolina anytime Thursday night through Friday morning.

Regardless of landfall, Dorian will be close enough to the Carolina coasts to bring near-hurricane-force winds, storm surge and flooding. The biggest threat will likely be coastal flooding from Charleston to the Outer Banks. Up to 15 inches of rain is possible.

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