Hurricane Dorian made landfall over Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, Friday morning after weakening to a Category 1 storm and generating tornadoes, severe storm surges and flooding in coastal areas in North and South Carolina.
After landfall, Dorian began moving out into the Atlantic Ocean and continued its trek up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm had devastated much of the Bahamas days earlier.
The NHC said the storm was located about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northeast of Cape Hatteras on Friday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour). The winds were expected to slowly weaken through Saturday.
In its most recent bulletin, the NHC said, "The center of Dorian will move away from the coast of North Carolina during the next several hours." It added, "The center should move to the southeast of extreme southeastern New England tonight [Friday] and Saturday morning, and then across Nova Scotia late Saturday or Saturday night."
The NHC said it expected Dorian to continue to produce life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds along parts of the North Carolina and Virginia coasts. Flash flooding across parts of northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia was expected to continue through early Friday afternoon.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said there was "significant concern about hundreds of people trapped on Ocracoke Island" in the Outer Banks region. Local authorities were planning to have helicopters evacuate people who wished to leave.
Elsewhere, thousands of people in the Bahamas have begun the long and painful struggle to rebuild their lives following the onslaught of the hurricane, which was an extremely powerful Category 5 storm upon its arrival several days ago.
International search and rescue teams are spreading out across Abaco and Grand Bahama islands looking for survivors.
Late Thursday, the death toll in the Bahamas had risen to 43.
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told CNN Thursday he believes the final number of people killed "will be staggering."
The French news agency reported teams of people in masks and white protective suits were seen placing corpses enclosed in green body bags onto a flatbed truck.
Homes have been transformed into matchsticks.
"It's hell everywhere," said Brian Harvey, a Canadian who was on his sailboat when Dorian hit.
The U.S. Coast Guard and British Royal Navy have ships docked off the islands and the United Nations is sending eight tons of ready-to-eat meals and satellite communications equipment.
The Royal Caribbean and Walt Disney cruise lines, which usually carry tourists to Bahamian resorts, are instead using ships to deliver food, water, flashlights and other vital aid.
Hampton University, a historically black college in Virginia, has offered free classes and room and board to students from the University of the Bahamas for the current fall semester.
After the fall semester, any students who remain will be charged the regular rates.