Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for counties on the Atlantic coast with Hurricane Isaias expected to cause heavy rains in the state as early as this morning, prompting the closure of Covid-19 testing sites.
The hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 120kmph, was lashing the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the US National Hurricane Centre said.
It said heavy rains may begin to affect South and East-Central Florida beginning this morning, and the eastern Carolinas by early next week, potentially causing flooding in low-lying and poorly drained areas.
DeSantis said he had signed an executive order establishing a state of emergency for east coast counties stretching from Miami-Dade in the south to Nassau at the northern tip, a move that makes it easier to mobilise resources.
The storm has already caused at least two deaths in the Dominican Republic and tore down trees, flooded streets and knocked out power for thousands of homes and businesses in Puerto Rico, according to local media reports.