Homes smashed as Hurricane Dorian spawns twisters, bears down on USA

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Hurricane Dorian has spawned devastating tornadoes that have ripped apart homes in the USA as it bears down on the east coast.

As the violent storm lashed the south-east it triggered a series of twisters that smashed the state of North Carolina.

One tornado was filmed ravaging Wilmington while others slammed the Emerald Isle, flattening homes in their path and leaving trails of ruin and debris.

With howling wind speeds of 185km/h, Dorian hugged the coast off South Carolina after earlier sweeping Florida at a relatively safe distance and grazing the state of Georgia.

The National Hurricane Centre reported Dorian produced dangerous winds, storm surges and flooding across portions of the Carolinas and was now a Category 2 storm about 90 kilometres southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Thursday local time.

Flood waters have been rising rapidly in the city of Charleston, South Carolina, where more than 18cm of rain has fallen while North Carolina’s governor Roy Cooper declared: “Dorian’s power has arrived…with wind, rain and tornadoes.”

Governors in the region declared states of emergency, closed schools, opened shelters, readied national guard troops and implored residents to take warnings seriously.

More than 252,000 customers were without power in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, with the bulk in South Carolina.

At least 20 people were killed in the Bahamas, which suffered the brunt of the devastation when Dorian was a much stronger Category 5, with destructive winds and pounding rain.

An estimated three million people in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas were warned to evacuate as the storm closed in with the potential for life-threatening storm surges, however many are now returning to their homes.

At least two deaths were reported on the US mainland, in Florida and North Carolina, both involving men who fell while getting ready for the storm.

The National Hurricane Centre’s projected track showed Dorian passing near or over the Outer Banks on Friday (local time), lashing the thin line of islands that stick out from the US coast like a boxer’s chin.

Dorian was then expected to peel away from the shoreline.

In an assault that began over America’s Labour Day weekend, Dorian pounded the Bahamas with Category 5 winds up to 300km/h, obliterating entire neighbourhoods and triggering a humanitarian crisis.

At least 70,000 Bahamians needed immediate humanitarian relief after Dorian became the most damaging storm ever to hit the island nation.

After its Bahamas destruction Dorian weakened to a Category 2 before strengthening again late on Wednesday.

It was forecast to possibly make landfall in North Carolina late Thursday or early Friday.

About 830,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders on the South Carolina coast alone.

More than 1500 people sought refuge in 28 shelters in South Carolina, where rain began falling late on Wednesday in the historic port city of Charleston, situated on a peninsula that is prone to flooding even from ordinary storms.

As Dorian crept dangerously closer to the city, the wind picked up, sending sheets of rain sideways.

More than two dozen streets were closed by flooding in the city, where shops and restaurants were boarded up with wood and corrugated metal.