(CNN) - States up and down the East Coast are bracing for Hurricane Sandy, which started to make its turn toward the United States early Monday. The Category 1 hurricane's center is expected to hit land as early as 8 p.m. ET Monday.
Its eye is taking aim at southern New Jersey's shoreline and the Delmarva peninsula -- which is divided into parts of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia -- but forecasters say the large storm will affect a much wider area.
Here's a look at how coastal states are dealing with the storm:
Gov. Dan Malloy said authorities are worried about high tides -- particular the one at midnight Monday, which could be up to 11 feet above the normal high tide and "has the potential to cause unprecedented damage."
"The potential loss of life and loss of property in Connecticut, if these numbers are hit, will be extremely high," he said. "This is the most catastrophic event that we have faced and been able to plan for in any of our lifetimes. And we continue to do anything in our power to be ready."
Bus service in Connecticut will stay closed for the duration of the storm, Malloy said. He said his state has 850 National Guard troops ready to assist with recovery efforts as needed.
President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency for Connecticut.
Parts of the Delaware coast have already experienced significant flooding.
By early Monday, the National Guard and local authorities were responding to residents who did not evacuate and "need to be rescued from flooding," Gov. Jack Markell said in a Twitter post.
Markell ordered the evacuation of all coastal communities and a flood-prone area in southern Delaware.
Shelters opened beginning Sunday afternoon to accommodate those who have left their homes but have nowhere else to go. Statewide, 500 people spent the night in five shelters, Markell said Monday.
"The biggest concerns, the rain and the wind together make driving conditions absolutely miserable, so we put in a driving restriction today," he said Monday.
The restrictions mean only "essential personnel," such as core government employees and those who provide health care services, should be driving.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The city's mass transit system, known as the Metro, will stay idle Monday.
All Washington public schools will be closed Monday, Mayor Vincent Gray announced. "The district is preparing in earnest" for the storm's effects, which could include heavy rain, street flooding, strong winds, power outages and storm-surge flooding along the Potomac River and its tributaries, Gray said.
All federal buildings will be closed to the public Monday.
Obama declared a state of emergency in the District of Columbia on Sunday.
The Maine Emergency Management Agency warned Sandy could create "significant problems" such as high surf, fierce winds and coastal erosion.
In anticipation of widespread power outages, Gov. Paul LePage signed a "limited emergency declaration" so power crews from other states and Canada can help the state prepare for Sandy. The declaration also extends the hours that power company crews can drive.
Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency for the Bay State.
Hoping to avoid the kind of criticism utilities received after last year's Hurricane Irene and other storms, Patrick said utilities plan to pair tree removal and power restoration crews -- rather than having them work separately -- so that work can be done more efficiently.
Boston announced that schools will be closed Monday.
Obama also declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts.
Like several neighboring states, Maryland could see as much as a foot of rain in some areas -- a major reason the state has declared a state of emergency.
Besides flooding, strong winds are expected to cause significant power outages. The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., for instance, said several hundred thousand customers could be affected.
Public schools in Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George's County will be closed Monday.
In the coastal city of Annapolis, city crews distributed sandbags to residents and businesses to help them prepare for flooding.
President Obama declared a state of emergency in Maryland on Sunday.
Sandy could bring winds of up to 60 mph and dump 2 and 4 inches of rain to parts of the Granite State -- likely starting Monday, Gov. John Lynch's office said.
"While the exact path and severity of the storm remain uncertain, it is clear New Hampshire will experience a significant weather event and I urge everyone to be prepared," Lynch said.
New Jersey was the first to announce mandatory evacuations. The state's barrier islands from Sandy Hook south to Cape May must be cleared out, along with Atlantic City's casinos.
"We have to prepare for the worst here," Gov. Chris Christie said. Tolls have been suspended on the northbound Garden State Parkway and the westbound Atlantic City Expressway
so people in those areas can leave more quickly, he said.
All state offices will be closed Monday, with only essential employees expected to report to work, Christie announced.
New Jersey Transit came to a halt and will remain suspended indefinitely.
Authorities "anticipate there could be many days without power" after the storm, Newark Mayor Cory Booker said Monday.
New York City's ubiquitous public transit system shut down ahead of Sandy's landfall, leaving iconic sites such as Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station empty.
The city expects a slow surge of water to flood low-lying areas such as Queens, the Bronx and Battery Park in Manhattan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Officials are keeping a close eye on how high the seawater is rising and may pre-emptively shut down some electrical equipment, Con Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz said.
Mandatory evacuations are in place for parts of the city. Evacuation centers have been opened in 76 locations, and schools are closed Monday.
Offices at the United Nations in Manhattan also will be closed Monday as will the New York Stock Exchange.
The Broadway League canceled all Broadway performances Monday night, citing the suspension of public transportation.
Instead of tourists and theater fans, piles of sandbags lined Broadway.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed Army and Air National Guard members to mobilize for Sandy, and Obama has declared a state of emergency for New York.
Crew members of a tall ship used for classic adventure films faced a harrowing real-life drama Monday as Hurricane Sandy forced them to abandon ship about 90 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Fighting waves towering 18 feet high and winds of 40 mph, the group of 17 from the HMS Bounty boarded two lifeboats hoping for rescue as soon as possible, the Coast Guard said. The Coast Guard said it has "diminished search and rescue capabilities" as the Category 1 hurricane batters the U.S. East Coast.
Strong winds and rain that fell sideways lashed the Outer Banks as the outskirts of Sandy pummeled the barrier islands.
Forecast expect between 4 and 7 inches of rain to fall over several days in the Outer Banks, with some spots receiving 8 or more inches.
Gov. Tom Corbett declared a statewide disaster emergency ahead of the storm, Corbett's office said.
Flooding, power outages and sustained high winds are anticipated, his office said. Sandy could even bring snow to parts of southwestern Pennsylvania and in higher elevations.
"Essentially, this is a hurricane wrapped in a nor'easter," Corbett said.
Public schools in Philadelphia will be closed Monday.
Public transportation in the Philadelphia area has been suspended.
The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency urged all residents to prepare for prolonged power outages, wind damage and water damage by keeping an emergency kit, securing property and taking boats out of the water.
State authorities have taken precautions such as checking and clearing drains in flood-prone areas and relocating state equipment if necessary.
Public schools in Providence, the state capital, will be closed Monday.
Obama has declared a state of emergency for Rhode Island.
Heavy rains from the fringes of Sandy pelted much of South Carolina's coast, from Charleston to Myrtle Beach.
Virginia was one of several states to declare a state of emergency ahead of the storm. Computer models predict parts of the state could see as much as a foot of rain.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said Monday morning that his state had seen signs of the storm for days, but the worst was yet to come. Authorities are estimating that more than 1 million people could be without power after the storm, he said.
Sandbags piled up inside restaurants in the Old Town section of Alexandria along the banks of the Potomac River.
The Virginia National Guard was authorized to bring as many as 500 personnel onto active duty.
All public schools in Fairfax County, a large school district in northern Virginia, will be closed Monday and Tuesday. Schools in Arlington, Norfolk and Newport also will be closed Monday.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien, George Howell, Athena Jones, Greg Botelho and Melissa Gray contributed to this report.