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Hundreds stranded on Outer Banks island, 'catastrophic' flooding as Hurricane Dorian moves off coast

"We went from almost no water to 4 to 6 feet in a matter of minutes," said Steve Harris, who lives on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.
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Helicopters airlifted food and water to stranded residents of a North Carolina Outer Banks island Friday after it suffered “catastrophic flooding” as Hurricane Dorian swept up the coast, the governor said.

Dorian, a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, was quickly moving away from the Mid-Atlantic states Friday night and heading for Nova Scotia, the National Hurricane Centersaid.

As of 8 a.m. ET Saturday Dorian was producing tropical storm force winds over portions of southeastern Massachusetts, the center said, with hurricane conditions expected in Nova Scotia later.

But the storm surge left behind inundated Ocracoke Island where about 800 people stayed during the hurricane, Gov. Roy Cooper said.

"Many homes and buildings are still underwater," he said.

The governor planned Saturday to visit counties along the coast to assess the damage.

“People on the ground who felt the effects of Dorian are our focus today,” he said in a statement. “Getting food, water and medical help to the people in need is the first priority."

Image: Ocracoke Island, NC ONE TIME USE
The Ocracoke Village Fire Department was used as a command center Friday on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.Connie Leinbach / Ocracoke Observer via AP

By late Saturday morning, about 57,000 statewide were without power, the governor's office said.

Ocracoke Island, with a population of about 940, is accessible only by boat or air.

Search-and-rescue teams were going house to house to provide care for anyone who may have been injured or in need of assistance.

Emergency officials brought food, water, generators and fuel trucks to the island, according to the governor.

Hurricane Dorian made landfall on Cape Hatteras, north of Ocracoke Island, at around 9 a.m. Friday as the storm, which devastated parts of the Bahamas and killed at least 43 people earlier this week, moved away from the U.S. East Coast, forecasters and officials said.

The storm also caused damage on Cape Hatteras and other parts of the Outer Banks, leaving them without power, Cooper said.

Residents of Ocracoke Island who stayed behind described flooding on a scale they had never seen before.

"The wall of water just came rushing through the island from the sound side. And it just started looking like a bathtub, very quickly," Steve Harris, who has lived on the island for most of the last 19 years, told The Associated Press.

"We went from almost no water to 4 to 6 feet in a matter of minutes,” Harris said.

He lives on the third floor of a condo building but lost his car to the storm, and he told the AP that people there were getting around by boat.

More than 135,000 customers lost power and more than 81 roads across North Carolina were closed because of flooding or debris, Cooper said.

In South Carolina, which was lashed by the hurricane before it hit the Outer Banks, utility company Dominion Energy said crews were working "24/7" to restore electricity to 47,000 customers.

In Virginia, Norfolk was hit with tidal flooding and Cape Henry with wind gusts of 70 mph, the National Weather Service said.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage of Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of the Bahamas after making landfall as a Category 5 storm earlier this week. At least 43 people are dead, a spokesman for the prime minister said Friday, and the number is expected to increase significantly.

An estimated 13,000 homes were destroyed, and thousands of people were listed as missing.

The hurricane poses a threat to Nova Scotia, Canada, where heavy winds were expected late Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Paul Mason, executive director of Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office, said in a video message Friday that the whole province could be affected, and he said rain and winds of around 150 km an hour, or around 93 mph, could occur.

The hurricane was expected to pass about 120 miles southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, where a tropical storm warning was in effect for the island.