MIAMI -- Hurricane Frances remained a Category 4 storm Thursday morning with winds up to 145 mph as it slammed through the southeastern Bahamas on Thursday on a track that threatened Eleuthera, New Providence Island (Nassau) and Grand Bahama Island (Freeport) later in the day.

Cruise ports in Nassau and Freeport were closed, as were the airports throughout the island chain. 

Reports from the Turks and Caicos Islands, which was battered by Frances late Wednesday, were sketchy because telephone service was out, but initial damage included torn roofs, uprooted trees, tidal surges and flooding.

The storm was approximately 400 miles from Floridas East Coast, where state officials ordered mandatory evacuations from low-lying areas along 300 miles of the coast including Palm Beach, Brevard, Martin and Indian River counties.

Airlines cancelled flights to the region and instituted flexible rebooking policies to permit itinerary changes without charges for passengers scheduled to fly into or out of the Bahamas as well as a number of Florida destinations. Most carriers are offering rebooking without charge at least through Sept. 5. 

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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