Hurricane Dorian continues to lash the east coast of Central Florida as a strong Category 2 storm.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Tuesday at 11 p.m. Eastern, Dorian is now about 95 miles east of Cape Canaveral, Florida. Maximum sustained winds are being clocked at 110 mph (175 kph). It's moving to the north northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).
The Miami-based weather center says turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn toward the north-northeast on Thursday morning.
The core of Dorian will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast and the Georgia coast through Wednesday night. The center of Dorian is forecast to move near or over the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina Thursday through Friday morning.
Earlier this week Dorian pummeled parts of the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane, leaving widespread devastation and at least seven people dead.
The prime minister of the Bahamas said Tuesday night that the death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to seven and that more deaths are expected.
Hubert Minnis said he flew over the Abaco Islands and expects to do the same in Grand Bahama as soon as the weather clears.
In Abaco, he saw groups of people waving yellow sheets and shirts. He said 60 percent of homes were damaged in Marsh Harbor and that at least one community was completely destroyed.
FEMA Associate Administrator Carlos Castillo said Tuesday that residents along the U.S. East Coast should be prepared to evacuate if necessary and should heed evacuation orders from local officials.
"Don't tough it out, get out," Castillo warned.
Castillo said FEMA has over 1,600 employees deployed or on the way to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The American Red Cross says they've already opened 170 shelters and evacuation centers. Over 13,000 people are already at those facilities.
The National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard say they have also readied troops and are ready to respond once the storm hits.
Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands told The Associated Press that the hurricane devastated the health infrastructure in Grand Bahama island and massive flooding has rendered the main hospital unusable.
He said Tuesday that the storm caused less severe damage in the neighboring Abaco islands and he hopes to send an advanced medical team there soon.
Sands said the main hospital in Marsh Harbor is intact and sheltering 400 people but needs food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He also said crews are trying to airlift between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco who haven't received dialysis since Friday.
Dorian hit Abaco on Sunday with sustained winds of 185 mph (295 kph) and gusts up to 220 mph (355 kph), a strength matched only by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935.
United Nations officials estimate more than 60,000 people in the northwest Bahamas will need food following the devastation.
A spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program said Tuesday that a team is ready to help the Bahamian government assess storm damage and prioritize needs. Herve Verhoosel says preliminary calculations show that 45,700 people in Grand Bahama island may need food, along with another 14,500 in the neighboring Abaco islands.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says some 62,000 people also will need access to clean drinking water. Matthew Cochrane says about 45% of homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco were severely damaged or destroyed and the organization will help 20,000 of the most vulnerable people, including a large Haitian community.
The hurricane is about 100 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida.
The National Hurricane center said Dorian is expected to move "dangerously close" to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening and then move north to coastal Georgia and South Carolina on Wednesday night and Thursday.
Dorian unleashed massive flooding across the Bahamas on Monday, pummeling the islands with so much wind and water that authorities urged people to find floatation devices and grab hammers to break out of their attics if necessary. At least five deaths were blamed on the storm.
Officials said they received a "tremendous" number of calls from people in flooded homes. A radio station received more than 2,000 distress messages, including reports of a 5-month-old baby stranded on a roof and a grandmother with six grandchildren who cut a hole in a roof to escape rising floodwaters. Other reports involved a group of eight children and five adults stranded on a highway and two storm shelters that flooded.
The deaths in the Bahamas came after a previous storm-related fatality in Puerto Rico. At least 21 people were hurt in the Bahamas and evacuated by helicopters, the prime minster said.
In Freeport, Dave Mackey recorded video showing water and floating debris surging around his house as the wind shrieked outside.
"Our house is 15 feet up, and right now where that water is is about 8 feet. So we're pretty concerned right now because we're not at high tide," said Mackey, who shared the video with The Associated Press. "Our garage door has already come off. ... Once we come out of it with our lives, we're happy."
A mandatory evacuation of entire South Carolina coast took effect Monday covering about 830,000 people.
Transportation officials reversed all lanes of Interstate 26 from Charleston to head inland earlier than planned after noticing traffic jams from evacuees and vacationers heading home on Labor Day, Gov. Henry McMaster said.
"We can't make everybody happy, but we believe we can keep everyone alive," the governor said.
A few hours later, Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, ordered mandatory evacuations for that state's Atlantic coast, also starting at midday Monday.
Authorities in Florida ordered mandatory evacuations in some vulnerable coastal areas. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned his state that it could see heavy rain, winds and floods later in the week.