Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
Louisiana university collects Florence disaster supplies
NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) – Students at a university in Louisiana are helping residents of the Carolinas as they begin cleanup after Hurricane Florence.
Northwestern State University biology professor Dr. Curt Phifer is spearheading an effort to collect supplies for cleanup buckets. The buckets will then be taken to affected disaster areas through the United Methodist Center on Relief in Baldwin. Phifer says he’s asking every campus group to put together at least one bucket to donate to the relief effort.
Empty buckets are available to each organization in the Student Government Association office on the first floor of the Student Union. Each bucket has a list of specific items totaling about $75 that says how to assemble the bucket. Assembled buckets can be returned to the SGA office by Sept. 24.
Fate of FEMA leader in doubt as Florence cleanup continues
WASHINGTON (AP) – Problems are mounting for the head of the federal disaster relief agency.
The House Oversight Committee is asking for documents related to allegations that Federal Emergency Management Administrator Brock Long misused government vehicles. He says he has done nothing wrong.
Long has also been under investigation by Homeland Security’s watchdog agency. And he’s been noticeably absent from the public response to Hurricane Florence. But he appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday and said he was focused on the response to the storm.
The 43-year-old took over last year. His leadership has been praised by federal and state response officials. But some emergency management experts say the investigations are a distraction for the beleaguered agency as it deals with the worst storm of the year.
Diver filming shipwreck spots shark sneaking up on her
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) – A video captured by a Virginia woman filming a North Carolina shipwreck shows a sand tiger shark creeping up behind her, only to turn tail when spotted.
The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that the video shows a nearly 12-foot shark get within two feet of diver Shelley Collett. Collett says it was the second time the shark creeped up her during an August dive of the Aeolus shipwreck near Morehead City. She says she recognized the shark by a mark on its face.
She says she didn’t move, and the shark turned and swam off just before reaching her. Collett says sharks are common in the area and evidence of a healthy marine ecosystem. The video has gotten more than 23,000 views since it was shared online this month.
Trump to visit North Carolina to survey Florence impact
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump will travel to North Carolina on Wednesday to survey the impact of Hurricane Florence.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Tuesday confirmed Trump’s travel plans to North Carolina, which bore the brunt of the powerful storm.
Days after the hurricane rolled through, the region is dealing with massive flooding. In Wilmington, residents lined up by the hundreds for free food, water and tarps while officials opened up to the public two routes that had previously been impassable.
Florence is being blamed for at least 34 deaths in three states.
Remnants of the once-powerful Category 4 hurricane are now a rainy, windy mass of low pressure. The system has speeded up on a path toward the heavily populated Northeast.
TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: 2 dead after van is swept away in S. Carolina
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Authorities confirm two detainees drowned when a van was swept away in rising flood waters in South Carolina.
Horry County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Brooke Holden says a sheriff’s office van was carrying two detainees and two deputies from Conway to Darlington on Tuesday night when it was overtaken by flood waters. Officials say the van was traveling near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water officials in South Carolina are watching closely as water continues to poor into the state from upriver in North Carolina following the heavy rains of Florence.
Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed to AP earlier Tuesday that two women died in the incident. Their names have not been released.
Holden says the deputies tried to get the detainees out but couldn’t open the doors. High-water rescue teams plucked the deputies from the top of the van.
The incident is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division.
Forecasters predict some rivers in the northeastern area of the state might not reach their highest levels until later this week or next week.
Appeals court says teenage killer should get parole chance
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina appeals judges say a prisoner convicted of first-degree murder must have the chance to be released one day since he committed the crimes at age 17.
A state Court of Appeals panel said Tuesday that Montrez Benjamin Williams must be resentenced to life in prison with the possibility for parole for a pair of 2008 shooting deaths.
Williams initially was sentenced to life without parole, but U.S. Supreme Court decisions declared such mandatory sentences cruel and unusual punishments that could be handed down in part when determined that the youth’s rehabilitation was impossible.
A lower-court judge re-issued the same sentence to Williams in 2015, but the appeals court ruled the judge erred with the sentence when he determined there was “no certain prognosis” of Williams’ possibility of rehabilitation.
TROPICAL WEATHER-RATING THE DANGER
Hurricane rating system fails to account for deadly rain
TRENTON, North Carolina (AP) – Meteorologists and disaster experts say the nearly 50-year-old hurricane rating system fails to convey the full danger of storms because it only measures wind speed, not rainfall or storm surge.
Some people decided to stay put when they learned Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm before it hit last week. But experts say the storm was at least as dangerous. The risk of flooding hadn’t decreased at all, and water accounts for 90 percent of storm deaths.
Several meteorologists and disaster experts said that needs to change.
They point to Florence, last year’s Hurricane Harvey, 2012’s Sandy and 2008’s Ike as storms where the official Saffir-Simpson category didn’t quite convey the danger because of its emphasis on wind, not the massive amounts of water the storms generated.
TROPICAL WEATHER-DETAINEES DROWN
2 detainees drown as van swept into S. Carolina flood waters
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Two female detainees have drowned when a van was swept away in rising South Carolina flood waters.
Horry County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Brooke Holden says a sheriff’s office van was carrying two detainees and two deputies to Darlington Tuesday night when it was overtaken by flood waters.
Officials say the van was near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water state officials are watching following the heavy rains of Florence.
Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed to The Associated Press the victims were female. Their names have not been released.
Holden says deputies tried to get the detainees out but couldn’t. Rescue teams plucked the deputies from the top of the van.
State police are investigating.