Parts of the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts are reporting hurricane-force wind gusts and flooding as Hurricane Dorian continues to march up the Southeast coast.
As of 5 p.m., Dorian's maximum sustained winds are at 105 mph, with even higher gusts. Life-threatening storm surge, dangerous winds and flash flooding remained the biggest threats across the Carolinas.
At least four deaths in the Southeast have been reported, all involving men in Florida and North Carolina who died in falls or by electrocution while trimming trees, putting up storm shutters or otherwise getting ready for the hurricane.
Dorian has also spawned several tornadoes in the Carolinas on Thursday, including one near Myrtle Beach.
Twisters spun off by Dorian peeled away roofs and flipped trailers, and more than 250,000 homes and businesses were left without power as the hurricane pushed north along the coastline.
"We just heard the loud, rumbling noise. Kinda sounds like a train," a witness said.
In South Carolina, flooding was still a big concern, but local business owners are hoping for the best.
"Fortunately, we'll be back open this weekend," Charleston business owner Brett Yearout said. "The sun will be out. These poor people in the Bahamas have years to regroup. But we'll be all good in a couple days."
The Red Cross told Channel 2 Action News that more than 2,000 people took shelter from Dorian in Georgia in 13 shelters.
The storm brushed the Georgia coast early Thursday morning before moving up the Eastern Seaboard. On Thursday morning, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order lifting the mandatory evacuation order for six counties east of I-95.
Severe Weather Team 2 is tracking Dorian and how Georgia fared during the storm, on Channel 2 Action News.
Channel 2's Chris Jose was in Savannah, where he's seen some debris in the city but no significant damage.
Jose said the city looked like a ghost town Thursday morning with most businesses boarded up. Some business even put sandbags in front of their doors to prevent water from seeping in, but the Savannah River never spilled out of its banks.
Nearly 4,000 customers were still without power by 3 p.m. Thursday.
Still, the city was eager to reopen by Friday, officials said.
Jose spoke to Jeff Wood, who, with a team of locals, planned to take down plywood boarding up several buildings before tourists return.
"They got to get out here and spend some money so we can have some revenue, you know," Wood said.
Jose also spoke to Jerry Hudson, who lives on Dutch Island and said he was glad he made the decision to evacuate.
"Because of trees across the road, it's virtually one way in, one way out," Hudson said.
Overnight, the number of people dead in the Bahamas jumped to 20 people, with dozens still missing.
The storm pounded the Bahamas with Category 5 winds up to 185 mph and torrential rains, swamping neighborhoods with brown floodwaters and destroying or severely damaging, by one estimate, nearly half the homes in Abaco and Grand Bahama, which have 70,000 residents and are known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts.
Bahamian Health Minister Duane Sands said 17 of the dead were from the Abaco islands and three from Grand Bahama. He said he could not release further details because the government still had to contact family members.
Channel 2's Audrey Washington has been in contact with officials from the Bahamian Consulate General in Atlanta, one of whom hadn't heard from her brother and nephew in days.
On Thursday, Washington discovered that the two men had been found alive.
Channel 2's Lauren Pozen was at The Gathering Spot in northwest Atlanta, where people are donating to help those affected by the storm in the Bahamas.
Many of the people gathering relief supplies have family members in the islands they still have not been able to contact.
"It's been sobering, but we have all kept busy," Charlene Johnson, with the Bahamas' Consulate General, said.
Johnson said as the hurricane approached earlier this week, her brother sent a text to the family's group chat saying his roof was off and his house had started to flood.
That's the last she heard from him for two days.
"There was a sense of helplessness because we are here in Atlanta and they are in the Bahamas, and you see the eye just slowly passing over the island," Johnson said.
On Wednesday, Johnson got a text that gave her a huge sigh of relief.
"I got a message from my niece that she had heard from my brother," Johnson said. "They had spoken and they are both safe."
Johnson said the focus is now on relief efforts.
"Everything is gone. The island is practically barren, but we are all just thankful they are alive," she said.
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