Residents of Wilmington clean up tree branch debris after Hurricane Isaias made landfall near the town in North Carolina
Wilmington (United States) (AFP) - Tropical storm Isaias pounded the US eastern seaboard with driving rain and strong winds on Tuesday, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and prompting flood precautions in New York City.
Isaias slammed into the coast of North Carolina overnight with hurricane strength before being downgraded to a tropical storm.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said there had been at least one death in the southern state and an unspecified number of people injured.
"Overall," Cooper told ABC, "the damage was not any ways as great as it could have been."
"We have a lot of trees down," the governor said. "We have some storm surge flooding. We have about 355,000 people without power."
The storm is expected to hit New York later in the day with wind gusts of up to 75 miles per hour (120 kph), several inches of rain and possible flash flooding.
The authorities set up temporary flood barriers in Lower Manhattan in case of storm surge. The orange flexible tubes known as "Tiger Dams" have been put up in low-lying areas.
Authorities anticipate a possible storm surge of around one to two feet (0.3 to 0.6 meters). Superstorm Sandy in 2012 caused surges of up to 14 feet (4.2 meters).
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency ahead of Isaias's arrival.
"We urge all residents to stay off the roads and stay at home today," Murphy said.
"Given the expected winds, we should not be surprised to experience power outages across the state," he said.
- Tornado warnings -
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued tornado watches for stretches of the East Coast and warned of further power outages.
The fast-moving storm is tracking northeast according to the NHC and is expected to sweep through the northeastern United States and into southern Canada overnight.
Washington, Baltimore and other cities on or near the Atlantic coast were experiencing heavy rainfall.
Residents in flood-prone areas "should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions," the NHC said.
President Donald Trump issued emergency declarations on Monday for Florida and both Carolinas, freeing up federal funds.
"Everyone needs to remain vigilant," he warned.
The storm earlier dumped torrential rain on the Bahamas, felling trees and flooding streets, before emergency management officials on Sunday gave the all-clear.
At least one person died in Puerto Rico and the storm also lashed Haiti and the Dominican Republic.