Hurricane Dorian spawns damaging waterspout tornado in North Carolina beach town

Officials in Emerald Isle said that the waterspout touched down around 9 a.m. and damaged mobile homes and RVs.

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By Janelle Griffith

A North Carolina beach town said it experienced damage from a tornado that was spun off from Hurricane Dorian as the storm approached Thursday morning.

Officials in Emerald Isle said in a news release on its website that the waterspout, or a tornado that forms over a body of water, touched down around 9 a.m. and caused severe damage to the Boardwalk RV Park and the surrounding area near Islander and Reed Drives.

Residents of the Boardwalk RV Park discuss the path of a possible waterspout or tornado generated by Hurricane Dorian, in Emerald Isle, N.C. on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.Julia Wall / The News & Observer via AP

The tornado damaged mobile homes and RVs, officials said.

Boardwalk RV Park suffered the most severe damage. No injuries were reported.

The National Weather Service had issued a tornado watch for the area beginning Thursday morning and lasting through the day.

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Dozens of homes were "completely lost," according to Matt Zapp, the town manager for Emerald Isle.

"At this time, we have cleared the roadway debris and are now preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian," Zapp told NBC News.

Police told NBC affiliate WITN they saw the waterspout coming ashore and head straight for the RV park.

Photos from the area showed more than a dozen campers knocked on their side. Some were flipped upside-down.

At 9:06 a.m., the National Weather Service says a tornado was located over Emerald Isle moving northwest at 30 mph.

Emerald Isle Mayor Eddie Barber, who has lived on the island for about 25 years, told The News & Observer he has never seen anything like it.

“And I’m afraid this is just the beginning," he told the newspaper.

Mobile homes are upended and debris is strewn about at the Holiday Trav-l Park, on Sept. 5, 2019, in Emerald Isle, N.C, after a possible tornado generated by Hurricane Dorian struck the area.Julia Wall / AP

Floodwaters rose in South Carolina on Thursday as Hurricane Dorian, which weakened to a Category 2, approached the state's coast, bringing high winds and the danger of a life-threatening storm surge.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged people to heed mandatory evacuation orders for all of the state's barrier islands and cautioned residents to "get to safety and stay there."

At least one storm-related death was confirmed by state medical examiners in North Carolina. An 85-year-old man from Columbus County died Monday when he fell off a ladder while preparing his house for the storm, officials said.

Dorian already caused utter destruction in the Bahamas, where at least 23 people were killed. Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands told NBC News on Wednesday that number is expected to rise.