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Swollen rivers near record levels as Florence
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Rescuers are plucking residents from flooded homes as North Carolina’s swollen rivers are reaching record or near record crests from the epic rains unleashed by Florence.
Though downgraded to a tropical depression, Florence is still massive and dangerous as it covers parts of six states with North Carolina still very much in the bull’s eye. At least 17 people have been confirmed dead from the fierce storm and officials warn several North Carolina rivers could reach record or near-record crests starting later Monday.
Meanwhile, the city of Wilmington has been largely cut off from the rest of North Carolina by still-rising floodwaters from Florence. Emergency officials say they plan to airlift food and water to the beleaguered city of nearly 120,000 people.
TROPICAL WEATHER-TOXIC SITES
Pollution fears: Swollen rivers swamp ash dumps, hog farms
Flooded rivers from Florence’s rains have begun to swamp coal ash dumps and low-lying hog farms in North Carolina, raising pollution concerns as the swollen waterways approach their crests.
Duke Energy says the weekend collapse of a coal ash landfill at the mothballed L.V. Sutton Power Station near the Cape Fear River in Wilmington is an “on-going situation.” At a different power plant near Goldsboro, three old coal ash dumps have been inundated by the Neuse River.
An Associated Press photographer who flew over North Carolina’s Trent River saw several flooded hog farms Sunday. Those typically have large pits of hog urine and feces, but regulators say they’ve no reports so far of any pollution breaches.
Many rivers are forecast to crest Monday at or near record levels.
Road access cut off to N. Carolina city after Florence
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Authorities are looking at going by air and water to get food into a North Carolina city that was cut off from road access by Florence’s floodwaters.
Officials say the major highways into the Wilmington area, Interstate 40 and U.S. 74, weren’t accessible Sunday.
State Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said Sunday that one of his top priorities was determining how to restore ground access to the area.
Trogdon said the state was working with the Department of Defense and National Guard to see if they could get first responders through to Wilmington in high-water vehicles. He also said officials were working on “other contingencies to support Wilmington on the ocean side.”
TROPICAL WEATHER-DEATH TOLLS
Death tolls often rise weeks after storm hits
It’s not uncommon for death tolls to rise weeks after a natural disaster has hit.
More than six months after Hurricane Irma’s catastrophic rampage across the Caribbean and the southeastern United States, the U.S. National Hurricane Center raised the death toll to 129 – more than twice the amount reported at the end of the storm.
It also took years for Hurricane Katrina’s death toll to become fully known. That number is still debated today with figures used by different agencies varying by as much as 600 deaths.
President Donald Trump has questioned Puerto Rico’s adjusted death toll from the devastating storm last year and said the number rose “like magic.”
Disaster experts say realistic death tolls take time.
TROPICAL WEATHER-TALE OF TWO STORMS
US hurricane, Asian typhoon: 1 brings water, the other, wind
WASHINGTON (AP) – Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut roared ashore the same day half a world apart, but the way they spread devastation was as different as water and wind.
Storms in the western Pacific generally hit with much higher winds and the people who live in their way are often poorer and more vulnerable. Princeton University hurricane scientist Gabriel Vecchi said Saturday that differences in the storms also are likely to determine the type of destruction.
Mangkhut made landfall Friday in the Philippines with 165 mph (265 kph) winds. Florence had 90 mph (145 kph) winds on reaching North Carolina. Fast-moving Magnkhut quickly turn back out to sea, heading toward China. Meanwhile, Florence plodded across the Carolinas slower than a normal person walks, dumping heavy rains and causing severe flooding.
TROPICAL WEATHER-COAL ASH
Rains from Florence cause collapse at NC coal ash landfill
Duke Energy says heavy rains from Florence have caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station near the North Carolina coast.
Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said about 2,000 cubic yards (1,530 cubic meters) of ash were displaced at the L. V. Sutton Power Station outside Wilmington and that contaminated runoff likely flowed into the plant’s cooling pond. The company hasn’t yet determined whether the weir that drains the lake was open or if contamination may have flowed into the Cape Fear River.
Florence slammed into North Carolina as a large hurricane Friday, dumping nearly three feet (1 meter) of rain and swelling the region’s rivers amid widespread flooding.
Sheehan says the company has reported the incident to state and federal regulators.
TROPICAL WEATHER-THE SUPPLIERS
Before and after a storm, the supply stores are critical
MIAMI (AP) – Before and after a hurricane, Ace is the place. And Home Depot and Lowe’s. And many other hardware and building supply outlets.
Not surprisingly, these companies plan for storms such as Hurricane Florence all year. Much like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, supplies are pre-positioned and trucks loaded and ready to go with everything from batteries to gas cans to tarps to chainsaws.
Here’s the thing: the government can only do so much. Most people must fend for themselves at some point, and the local hardware or building supply store is where they go. Not everything is available easily online. Try to buy some drywall that way.
“It’s a year-round thing for us,” said
Margaret Smith, spokeswoman for Atlanta-based Home Depot, says: “When it’s hurricane season, we are operating 24 hours a day.”