Much of the southeast United States was hit in the night from Saturday to Sunday by torrential rain and the weather service warned that more rain could cause unprecedented flooding in the next 24 hours.
The rains come as Joaquin hurricane raised to Category 4 on a scale that has 5, hit the Bahamas, destroying homes, and headed for Bermuda.
According to media reports, bad weather caused the death of four people since Thursday in the United States, in North Carolina and South.
According to experts, the torrential rains that batter the east coast of the United States are a distinct meteorological phenomenon of the hurricane.
After passing over the Bahamas and have dumped torrential rain on Haiti and Cuba, Joaquin was Sunday around Bermuda, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The eye of the storm could reach Bermuda on Sunday afternoon or evening, the NHC said.
The progression of the storm to Bermuda cleared somewhat Bahamas where coastguards were still searching a cargo ship 225 meters, El Faro, missing since Thursday with 33 people on board.
Several areas of the tourist archipelago of 385,000 inhabitants were devastated, homes were destroyed and many people have no electricity or telephone.
“I lived here for 26 years and I have not seen anything like this,” said Paul Turnquest, a resident of San Salvador, The Nassau Guardian newspaper. “This is really the worst I have ever seen.”
The good news that the hurricane was going to avoid the East Coast of the United States and pass relatively far offshore has brought a brief respite to the authorities.
Much of the southeast of the country and especially South Carolina faces torrential rains for several days and have already caused major flooding.
President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in South Carolina and ordered federal authorities providing assistance to local authorities until further notice, said a statement from the White House published Saturday.
“Some 200 million Americans across the East Coast on Saturday are placed under flood warning,” says the television network NBC, which predicts that the worst is yet to come.
Many places in and around Charleston, tourist coastal town of South Carolina with a historic center dating back to the seventeenth century, were flooded.
The police set up barriers to block several flooded streets. At certain points, the streets were covered up more than half a meter of water, but some cars are still at risk attempting to cross the center.
The more than 100 000 inhabitants of Charleston were several flood warnings Saturday on their mobile phones, instructing them to avoid risky areas.
The Governor of the State Nikki Haley asked motorists not to take the road.
“We expect to historic levels of precipitation this weekend,” she has said in a statement.
In North Carolina, residents who live by the sea were evacuated to higher ground, according to state emergency services.
The railway company Amtrak has suspended part of its traffic on the southeast corridor Saturday, according to a statement.
“This situation worries us a lot,” said Bill Martin, a meteorologist national weather services to the television channel The Weather Channel. “We expect precipitation levels ranging from high to extreme in 48 hours,” he said.
Off the Bahamas, research has also picked up on Saturday to try to find the El Faro in vain despite significant resources deployed by the US Coast Guard.
This large RoRo – a little shorter than the French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle – has on board 28 Americans and five Poles.
A press Maritime Tote Puerto Rico, the owner of El Faro, did not indicate any progress in research on Saturday.
“Tote Maritime continues to work closely with the US Coast Guard and all available resources to locate and re-establish communication with El Faro,” said Tim Nolan, president of Puerto Rico Tote Maritime.
The Coast Guard uses the C-130 aircraft and a helicopter MH 60 Jayhawk. Two boats were also to go to area.