Record-setting Hurricane Dorian keeps pounding north Bahamas

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Hurricane Dorian moved closer to the northern Bahamas on Sunday, with the core of the storm expected to be near or over the islands later in the day.

Strong winds move palms at the first moment of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas.

Some West Palm Beach residents are taking shelter at Forest Hills High School ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

A "life-threatening storm surge" could raise water levels by as much as 23ft (7m) in parts of Grand Bahama island, which is now being pummelled by Dorian, said the US National Hurricane Center. Earlier, Dorian churned over Great Abaco Island with battering winds and surf during Sunday.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. Weekend traffic was light in Florida despite those orders, unlike during the chaotic run-up to Hurricane Irma in 2017 when the unusually broad storm menaced the entire state.

There was no immediate word on casualties in the low-lying islands. "We can not confirm those reports until we go out and look for ourselves", said Foreign Minister Darren Henfield, who represents North Abaco in the Bahamian parliament.

"When we leave here in a day or two we will be going to Montgomery, Alabama, which is a staging area for us, and we will be there and then sent to where all the damage is at and do what we need to do", said volunteer Loran Newton.

The storm, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, was stalled over Grand Bahama Island, packing maximum sustained winds of 249 kilometres per hour and moving at 2 kph, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said in an advisory at 11:00am (local time).

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Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas on Monday, peeling off roofs and snapping power lines as rising flood waters threatened to engulf houses, and was expected to edge closer to the USA coast, where more than a million people were ordered evacuated.

There will likely be further relief over the coming week: the American Red Cross says 19 million people live in areas across Florida, Georgia and SC that could be impacted by the storm in the upcoming days.

As Hurricane Dorian's path remains unclear, residents in the Carolinas are also being encouraged to prepare for severe weather conditions.

Donald Trump was at Camp David in Maryland, monitoring the situation. Other counties announced voluntary evacuations. As Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Administrator Bill Kaniewski told Newsweek on Sunday, flood insurance is a must for residents living "anywhere it rains".

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered mandatory evacuations for parts of eight coastal counties in his state effective at noon on Monday.

The hurricane center says a small change to the left of the NHC forecast could bring the core of the extremely unsafe hurricane onshore of the Florida east coast within the hurricane warning area. The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 305 km/h (190 mph) winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.

He says he expects this hurricane will "disrupt very much the quality of life" for many on the island. She says her granddaughter is also missing. "I think she said he drowned", Mcintosh said.

Several gasoline stations around Titusville were closed.