UPDATE 8:45 p.m. EDT: The National Hurricane Center predicted Hurricane Joaquin would sideswipe Bermuda before midnight. At 8 p.m. EDT, Joaquin was west-northwest of the island, moving north-northeast at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.
Tropical force winds extended 205 miles out from the center of the storm, with hurricane winds extending out 45 miles. Swells generated by Joaquin were battering the Bahamas as well as the southeast U.S. coast.
The U.S. Coast Guard Sunday found debris suspected to be from the missing cargo ship El Faro, which disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle amid Hurricane Joaquin. Found were life jackets, containers and an oil sheen presumed belonging to El Faro, which was carrying 33 crew members, 28 of them from the U.S., which disappeared Thursday, Reuters reported.
"This was the most challenging weather conditions anyone on our crew had ever flown," a Coast Guard pilot who took part in the rescue mission told Reuters. As the powerful hurricane turned to slam Bermuda, islanders prepared for the storm while residents along the East Coast of the U.S. awaited more flooding.
High winds and rain hit Bermuda Sunday morning with squalls expected to continue into the night, as the now Category 3 storm, downgraded from a Category 4, was set to pass 75 miles off the coast. The island nation in the Atlantic Ocean sits 650 miles off the coast of South Carolina, which is under a state of emergency following a foot of rain. Residents in the coastal regions prepared for more flooding.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) October 4, 2015
The mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, said Sunday that the flooding was the worst he had ever seen, including after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Schools and activities throughout the city have remained closed and authorities have urged people whose homes have not flooded to stay inside as much as possible. At least 40 people were evacuated from their homes Sunday afternoon, the Charleston Post Courier reported.
In the Bahamas, Prime Minister Perry Christie said certain parts of Long Island saw "major devastation" by Saturday night. Emergency services are in place, with food donations and flashlights available to residents. Christie also said the government would spare no expense in rebuilding the islands after the storm, and the tab could be as high as several million dollars.
The National Hurricane Center issued an advisory for the North Atlantic at 2 p.m. EDT Sunday, predicting continuing rain as the hurricane neared Bermuda while adding the storm was unlikely to grow any stronger.