The devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian — and the terror it inflicted during its day-and-a-half mauling of the Bahamas — came into focus Wednesday as the passing of the storm revealed a muddy, debris-strewn landscape of smashed and flooded-out homes on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

The official death toll from the strongest hurricane on record ever to hit the country jumped to 20, and there was little doubt it would climb higher.

And as Dorian blows off the coast of the Carolinas, forecasters are predicting high storm surges and drenching rains that could trigger flooding and unleash environmental hazards in areas still recovering from last year's Hurricane Florence.

The National Weather Service said hurricane warnings were in effect Thursday for the Carolina coasts up to Virginia, with a "potentially life threatening storm surge" of up to 8 feet around the North Carolina-South Carolina line. Coupled with high tide, the storm's arrival Thursday is expected to push water up the mouths of coastal rivers, causing low-lying areas to flood. There could also be up to a foot of rainfall across much of Eastern North Carolina, raising concerns of flash flooding well inland.

Some areas in the region expected to be affected by Dorian are still rebuilding from Florence, which caused widespread damage in September 2018 that included scores of flooded hog and chicken farms, inundated sewage treatment plants and breached dam at a power plant near a coal ash landfill.

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