Dorian's floodwaters trap people in attics in North Carolina

ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. — A weakened Hurricane Dorian flooded homes on North Carolina's Outer Banks on Friday with a fury that took even storm-hardened residents by surprise, forcing people to climb into their attics. Hundreds were feared trapped by high water, and neighbors used boats to rescue one another.

Medics and other rescuers rushed to Ocracoke Island — accessible only by boat or air — to reach those who made the mistake of defying mandatory evacuation orders along the 200-mile (320-kilometer) ribbon of low-lying islands.

"We are flooding like crazy," Ocracoke Island bookshop owner Leslie Lanier texted. "I have been here 32 years and not seen this."

Its winds down to 90 mph (145 kph), Dorian howled over the Outer Banks as a far weaker storm than the brute that wreaked havoc on the Bahamas at the start of the week. Just when it looked as if its run up the Southeast coast was coming to a relatively quiet end, the Category 1 hurricane sent seawater surging over neighborhoods, flooding the first floors of many homes, even ones on stilts.

"There is significant concern about hundreds of people trapped on Ocracoke Island," Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Over and over, longtime residents said that they had never seen flooding so bad, and that places in their homes that had never flooded before were inundated.

"We were all on social media laughing about how we'd done well and there was really no flooding at all, just rain, typical rain," Steve Harris, who has lived on Ocracoke Island for most of the last 19 years. And then, "the wall of water just came rushing through the island."

"It just started looking like a bathtub, very quickly," said Harris, who was safe in his third-floor condo. "We went from almost no water to 4 to 6 feet in a matter of minutes."

The Coast Guard began landing local law enforcement officers on the island via helicopter and airlifting out the sick, the elderly or others in distress, Hyde County authorities said. Residents were told to get to the highest point in their homes in the meantime.

"Several people were rescued from their upper floors or attics by boat by good Samaritans," Ocracoke Island restaurant owner Jason Wells said in a text message.

In Buxton on Hatteras Island, close to where Dorian blew ashore, Radio Hatteras volunteer Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy said that people were calling in to report that "houses are shaking like crazy" and that "it's never been like this before."

Around midmorning, the eye of the storm came ashore at Cape Hatteras, Dorian's first landfall in the continental U.S. after a week and half in which it spread fear up and down the coast and kept people guessing as to where it would go.

As of 2 p.m. EDT, Dorian was moving northeast at 21 mph (34 kph). The center of the storm had pushed past the Outer Banks and was about 125 miles (200 km) northeast of Cape Hatteras.

It is expected to remain a hurricane as it sweeps up the Eastern Seaboard through Saturday, veering far enough offshore that its hurricane-force winds are unlikely to pose any threat to land in the U.S.

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Hurricane Dorian: See the storm's effect on the Bahamas, Florida and more
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Hurricane Dorian: See the storm's effect on the Bahamas, Florida and more
Brennamae Cooper, right, cries and hugs a friend after finding themselves walking in opposite directions, one escaping the destruction of Hurricane Dorian and the other on the way to search for her relatives, on a shattered road near the town of High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday Sept. 5, 2019. (AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa)
Extensive damage and destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian is seen in Great Abaco, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. The storm’s devastation has come into sharper focus as the death toll climbed to 20 and many people emerged from shelters to check on their homes. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)
A man walks past damages caused by Hurricane Dorian on September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. - Hurricane Dorian lashed the Carolinas with driving rain and fierce winds as it neared the US east coast Thursday after devastating the Bahamas and killing at least 20 people. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Limbs from trees covered the sidewalks around Forsyth Park Thursday morning, Sept. 5, 2019, following the passing of Hurricane Dorian. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News via AP)
Homes flattened by Hurricane Dorian are seen in Abaco, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. The storm’s devastation has come into sharper focus as the death toll climbed to 20 and many people emerged from shelters to check on their homes. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)
Women cover their heads with palmetto leaves as they rest on the road, after the passage of Hurricane Dorian, near High Rock in Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. The women are walking to the town of High Rock to look for their relatives. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Power company lineman work to restore power after a tornado hit Emerald Isle, N.C. as Hurricane Dorian moved up the East coast on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)
Beaufort Police Officer Curtis Resor, left, and Sgt. Micheal Stepehens check a sailboat for occupants in Beaufort, N.C. after Hurricane Dorian passed the North Carolina coast on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. Dorian howled over North Carolina's Outer Banks on Friday — a much weaker but still dangerous version of the storm that wreaked havoc in the Bahamas — flooding homes in the low-lying ribbon of islands and throwing a scare into year-round residents who tried to tough it out. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)
Una mujer (izquierda) habla por su celular tras ser evacuada de las islas Ábaco junto a otras personas luego del paso del huracán Dorian, en un aeropuerto privado en Nassau, Bahamas, el 5 de septiembre de 2019. (AP Foto/Fernando Llano)
Johnny Crawford navega en su kayak por una calle inundada, el 5 de septiembre de 2019, en Charleston, Carolina del Sur, tras el paso del huracán Dorian. (AP Foto/Meg Kinnard)
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flies over a house destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, in High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. At least 30 people died in the hurricane and the number could be "significantly higher," Bahamian health minister Duane Sands told The Associated Press in a telephone interview late Thursday. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A man cries after discovering his shattered house and not knowing anything about his 8 relatives who lived in the house, missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday Sept. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A couple embraces on a road destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, as they walk to the town of High Rock to try and find their relatives in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Forensic police rest after helping to recover a corpse in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Fernley Cooper walks with with his daughter Grace, with what they could recover from their house, on a road destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, near High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5 , 2019. Cooper and his daughter walked to Freeport to take refuge in the home of their relatives. (AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa)
Fernley Cooper, hand in hand with his daughter Grace, walks with what they could recover from their house, on a road destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, near High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5 , 2019. Cooper and his daughter walked to Freeport to take refuge in the home of their relatives. (AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa)
A woman comforts a man who cries after discovering his shattered house and not knowing anything about his 8 relatives who lived in the house, missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
The portico of a house destroyed by Hurricane Dorian is the only thing that stands of the structure, destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, in High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday Sept. 5, 2019. At least 30 people died in the hurricane and the number could be "significantly higher," Bahamian health minister Duane Sands told The Associated Press in a telephone interview late Thursday. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Forensic police recover a corpse in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Forensic police recover a corpse in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Brennamae Cooper, right, cries as she walks to Freeport, escaping of the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian, near the town of High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. Cooper walked with her husband and daughter to a relatives house in Freeport. The couple at left are on their way to High Rock to search for family member. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
MARSH HARBOUR, BAHAMAS - SEPTEMBER 5 : Debris from Hurricane Dorrian covers a neighborhood in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. Hurricane Dorian made landfall here as a Category 5 hurricane, a deadly tempest that leveled homes, crushed cars, crumpled boats and killed people. (Photo by Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
People explore the streets after Hurricane Dorian on September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco, Bahamas. - The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday. Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A view of damage from Hurricane Dorian on September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco, Bahamas. - The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday. Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - People shelter inside a church after surviving Hurricane Dorian on September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco, Bahamas. - The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday. Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People shelter inside a church after surviving Hurricane Dorian on September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco, Bahamas. - The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday. Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A man is seen among the damage from Hurricane Dorian on September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco, Bahamas. - The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday. Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Survivors of Hurricane Dorian receive a meal from the World Central Kitchen at the government complex on September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco, Bahamas. - The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday. Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People shelter inside a church after surviving Hurricane Dorian on September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco, Bahamas. - The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday. Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the World Central Kitchen delivers food relief to survivors of Hurricane Dorian September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco, Bahamas. - The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday. Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Chef Jose Andres carries food relief while working with his charity group World Central Kitchen to help survivors of Hurricane Dorian September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco, Bahamas. - The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN today. Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
September 6, 2019; Myrtle Beach, SC, USA; People collect shells near a stranded Jeep car in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina before it was towed around 8 a.m. Friday, September 6, 2019. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard/The Greenville News via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
September 6, 2019; Myrtle Beach, SC, USA; Real Estate booklet racks blew over during Hurricane Dorian, but not much other damage along North Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Friday, September 6, 2019. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard/The Greenville News via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
September 6, 2019; Myrtle Beach, SC, USA; People walk on the beach during lower tide in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina after Hurricane Dorian cameFriday, September 6, 2019. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard/The Greenville News via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
September 6, 2019; Myrtle Beach, SC, USA; Terence Powell puts a lid back on a North Ocean Boulevard garbage can in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Friday, September 6, 2019. Powell said the city took them off before Hurricane Dorian came so they would not blow off. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard/The Greenville News via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
September 6, 2019; Myrtle Beach, SC, USA; People walk on the beach during lower tide in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina after Hurricane Dorian came Friday, September 6, 2019. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard/The Greenville News via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Heavy surf from Hurricane Dorian strikes the Yaupon Beach Pier on Oak Island on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019, in Oak Island, N.C. (Photo by Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS/Sipa USA)
Linda Hendrickson and Steve Edwards watch the heavy surf from Hurricane Dorian as it strikes the Yaupon Beach Pier on Oak Island on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019, in Oak Island, N.C. (Photo by Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS/Sipa USA)
September 5, 2019; Wilmington, NC, USA; Water fills Water Street in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina on Sept. 5, 2019. Mandatory Credit: Angeli Wright/Asheville Citizen Times via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
September 5, 2019; Wilmington, NC, USA; Jackson Navarra and his dog, Riku, cross a flooded Water Street near the Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, during a break in the bad weather caused by Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 5, 2019. Navarra said he took Riku for an extra long walk because he could and that he was "pretty underwhelmed so far" by the storm which is expected to cross over the area overnight. Mandatory Credit: Angeli Wright/Asheville Citizen Times via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Horry County Fire rescue check on The Retreat subdivision in Little River, near North Myrtle Beach, after a tornado from Hurricane Dorian damaged the area Thursday, Septemeber 5, 2019. Hurricane Dorian Hits Thursday (Photo by KEN RUINARD / GANNETT USA TODAY NETWORK, The Greenville News via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA Today Network/Sipa USA)
A man walks away from the ocean on the Boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Thursday, Septemeber 5, 2019. Hurricane Dorian Hits Thursday (Photo by KEN RUINARD / GANNETT USA TODAY NETWORK, The Greenville News via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA Today Network/Sipa USA)
Downed tree limbs on Calhoun Street at Marion Square in Charleston, SC, during Hurricane Dorian Thursday, September 5, 2019. The storm center was 80 miles south-southeast of Charleston at 7 a.m. packing sustained winds of 115 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Charlestondorian Mb14 09052019 (Photo by MATT BURKHARTT/Staff, The Greenville News via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA Today Network/Sipa USA)
As multiple law enforcement agengies continue their investigation into the shooting of at least on Madison County Sheriff deputy Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019, on Hwy. 16 along the edge of the Canton Country Club, Mississippi State Troopers and Canton Police cordone the crime scene. Madison County Sheriff deputy shooting (Photo by Barbara Gauntt/Clarion Ledger, Mississippi Clarion Ledger via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA Today Network/Sipa USA)
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More than 350,000 people were without electricity in the Carolinas and Virginia as Dorian moved up the coast.

At least four deaths in Southeast were blamed on Dorian. All were men in Florida or North Carolina who died in falls or by electrocution while trimming trees, putting up storm shutters or otherwise getting ready for the hurricane.

As Dorian closed in, more than a quarter-million residents and visitors were ordered to evacuate the Outer Banks, which stick out from the Eastern Seaboard like the side-view mirror on a car. But many just tied down their boats, removed objects from their yards that could blow away, and hunkered down.

Dorian slammed the Bahamas at the start of the week with 185 mph (295 kph) winds, killing at least 30 people and obliterating countless homes. From there, it swept past Florida and Georgia, then sideswiped the Carolinas on Thursday, spinning off tornadoes that peeled away roofs and flipped recreational vehicles.

Still, the damage was far less than feared in many parts of the Carolinas, including historic Charleston, South Carolina, which is prone to flooding even from ordinary storms, and Wilmington, North Carolina, the state's biggest coastal city.

Joseph Pawlick went out Friday morning to rake leaves, twigs and other debris blown from the sidewalk outside his Wilmington home.

"I slept like a baby last night. This, thankfully, was not bad," he said.

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Finley reported from Norfolk, Virginia. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Gary D. Robertson, Martha Waggoner and Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina; Tom Foreman Jr. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Seth Borenstein in Washington.

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For more of AP's coverage of Hurricane Dorian, go to: https://apnews.com/Hurricanes

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