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DHS says FEMA money transfer won’t harm hurricane relief
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Homeland Security Department is pushing back against a Democratic U.S. senator’s claim that the Trump administration transferred nearly $10 million from the government’s disaster relief agency to immigration enforcement.
Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said the administration was taking money from FEMA’s “response and recovery” to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency at a time when Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the Southeast U.S. coast.
But DHS officials said the money was transferred from the department’s unspent operational accounts for training, office supplies and headquarters costs. That funding cannot be spent on disaster response, they said. FEMA’s annual budget is about $15 billion.
Merkley provided no evidence for his suggestion that the money came from hurricane response funds.
TROPICAL WEATHER-TRUMP-THE LATEST
The Latest: Trump says Puerto storm response ‘unappreciated’
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump says the U.S. government is ready for Hurricane Florence and he’s rejecting criticism of the response to last year’s Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where thousands of people died.
Trump tweeted Wednesday, “We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan).”
He says, “We are ready for the big one that is coming!”
Florence is nearing the Carolina coast with powerful winds and drenching rain.
Trump calls the government’s response in Puerto Rico “successful” even though a federal report shows 2,975 people died.
San Juan’s mayor blames Trump for delays in getting supplies and money to the island.
TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Florence generating waves of 83 feet
MIAMI (AP) – Forecasters say Hurricane Florence is generating enormous waves, as high as 83 feet (25 meters) as it makes its way toward the East Coast.
The National Hurricane Center says the waves were measured by satellite.
The huge waves are being produced because currents are trapped by very strong winds moving in the same direction the storm’s motion. The center’s Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch is tweeting about the phenomenon.
The center of the storm is about 485 miles (785 kilometers) out to sea, with tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 175
miles (280 kilometers).
TROPICAL WEATHER-RURAL TOWNS
Florence poses a new threat for rural, struggling towns
PRINCEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Monster Hurricane Florence is taking aim at parts of the Carolinas were many families struggle to get by, and who may lack the money to flee or recover after the damage is done.
The director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina says Florence’s predicted path means trouble for some of the poorest communities in the region. Susan Cutter says she fears there are a lot of people in low-lying, flood-prone areas who aren’t leaving because they had nowhere to go and no resources to get there.
Beaufort (BOW-fort) County along North Carolina’s Pamlico Sound is pressing school system buses into service Wednesday moving residents living in flood-prone areas to higher ground and the local high school that will shelter up to 500 people.
TROPICAL WEATHER-MILITARY BASES
East Coast military bases brace for Florence
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) – The Navy is moving people and ships ahead of Hurricane Florence , and the Air Force and Army are both flying advanced aircraft elsewhere as a safeguard. Some remaining Marines, meanwhile, are digging in their heels.
While thousands of Marines and their families have already left Camp Lejeune in Jacsksonville, North Carolina, the commanding general said Tuesday that anyone remaining at the base would have food, water and protection despite being in the projected path of the storm.
Some military families and others took to Camp Lejeune’s Facebook page, venting fears and questioning why there was no mandatory evacuation.
Nat Fahy, a spokesman for the command, said the base was the safest place for anyone who had not evacuated already. Shelters on the base are expected to open early Wednesday
MCDONALD’S-SEX HARASSMENT STRIKE
Some McDonald’s workers vote to strike over sex harassment
NEW YORK (AP) – McDonald’s workers are going on strike next week.
Emboldened by the #MeToo movement, McDonald’s workers have voted to stage a one-day strike next week at restaurants in 10 cities. They want to pressure management to take stronger steps against on-the-job sexual harassment.
The cities include Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Milwaukee.
Organizers said they could not predict with precision how many workers would join the strike, but noted that hundreds of workers had participated in the committee meetings at which the strike was planned.
McDonald’s defended its anti-harassment efforts and said it has specific policies designed to prevent sexual misconduct at its restaurants.
TEEN’S BOSS THREATENED
Teen accused of holding boss at gunpoint over cash payment
(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com)
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina teenager is accused of holding his boss at gunpoint and demanding he be paid in cash.
The Fayetteville Observer reports 18-year-old Joshua Caleb Hunt is charged with kidnapping and discharging a firearm to cause fear. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office says Hunt’s boss, Robert Lockamy, told authorities Hunt called out of work Friday and hadn’t picked up his paycheck.
Lockamy says Hunt entered the business Monday and began yelling. He says Hunt pulled out a gun and fired into the floor before demanding he be paid in cash. Lockamy says he told Hunt he didn’t have cash, but the check already was written. Authorities say Hunt then walked Lockamy at gunpoint to where the check was kept and took it.
It’s unclear if Hunt has a lawyer.
TROPICAL WEATHER-TOXIC WATERS
Florence could flood hog manure pits, coal ash dumps
Hurricane Florence could cause an environmental disaster in North Carolina, where waste from hog manure pits, coal ash dumps and other industrial sites could wash into homes and threaten drinking water supplies.
Two decades ago, a Category 2 hurricane caused dozens of hog manure pits to flood as millions of gallons of untreated sewage spilled out. Florence is forecast to make landfall in the same region as a much stronger storm.
North Carolina has roughly 2,100 industrial-scale pork farms containing more than 9 million hogs.
The Environmental Protection Agency says it will be monitoring nine toxic waste cleanup sites.
Also of concern are more than two dozen massive coal ash pits operated by Duke Energy.