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Hurricane Isaias lashes US east coast with fierce winds, heavy rain

COLOMBIA: Hurricane Isaias slammed into North Carolina bringing life-threatening storm surges as the entire US eastern coast braced for flash floods and destructive winds.

The area sustained winds of 85 miles per hour as the Category 1 hurricane made landfall in the southern part of the state on Monday just before midnight, the National Hurricane Center said.

Seawater flowed into streets on the border between the Carolinas forcing locals to wade through the flooded areas as rain and strong winds whipped palm trees. Isaias was downgraded to a tropical storm three hours after reaching the coast.

It is forecast to track up the east coast, with heavy rainfall expected to cause flash flooding through the mid-Atlantic states. Storm force winds are expected in Washington, Philadelphia and New York.

A tornado watch was in effect for 30 counties in North Carolina, where state governor Roy Cooper said National Guard soldiers and the Coast Guard were standing by.

Utility companies said about 200,000 outages have occurred across the state. Local authorities reported a number of fires in structures on the south coast and warned people whose houses are flooded to turn off the main electricity and not stand in the water.

President Donald Trump announced earlier he had issued emergency declarations for Florida and both Carolinas, warning everyone to remain vigilant.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a statewide state of emergency ahead of Isaias’s arrival, warning residents to stay off the roads in stormy conditions. 

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said Monday shelters are open and will screen people for COVID-19 symptoms — anyone infected will be sent for isolation out of danger.

The storm earlier brought torrential rain on the Bahamas, felling trees and flooding streets. At least one person died in Puerto Rico and the storm also lashed Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

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