Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Emergency at closed coal-fired power plant in NC
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Duke Energy has activated a high-level emergency alert at a retired coal-fired power plant near Wilmington, North Carolina, as floodwaters from the nearby Cape Fear River overtopped an earthen dike and inundated a large lake.
Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said Thursday that the dam containing Sutton Lake appears stable and they are monitoring the situation with helicopters and drones to react to what was called “an evolving situation.”
The lake is a former cooling pond at the L.V. Sutton Power Station and is adjacent to three large coal ash dumps. A landfill at the site ruptured over the weekend, spilling enough material to fill 180 dump trucks. Coal ash contains arsenic, mercury and other toxic heavy metals.
TROPICAL WEATHER-A DEATH
1 death during Florence: A hunter keeping watch on his dogs
KINSTON, N.C. (AP) – Flooding was just one of the things that killed more than two dozen people in North Carolina after Florence hit last week. One man died trying to help his dogs.
Family members say 77-year-old Bennie Lee Sutton apparently fell and died of a heart attack in a field next to his backyard dog kennel. Sutton’s wife Marian says the dogs were howling and barking as the hurricane approached the coast about 70 miles from their home outside Kinston. She says the avid hunter and outdoorsman spent the stormy midnight hours in his pickup truck, shining the headlights on the dog pen knowing that would quiet the animals.
Marian Sutton says her husband of 46 years was known locally as a top athlete who once excelled in baseball, softball and basketball.
TROPICAL WEATHER-TRUMP-THE LATEST
The Latest: Trump assures South Carolina as flooding lingers
HAVELOCK, N.C. (AP) – President Donald Trump says South Carolina is in for a “rough few days” in the aftermath of Florence, but assures the state that the federal government “is behind you.”
Trump spoke Wednesday at an emergency management center in the city of Conway, near Myrtle Beach.
He noted that he visited North Carolina earlier in the day to survey other damage caused by Florence. He tells South Carolina “all that water is coming your way.”
Trump says that, although the weather outside may be nice, “it’s really the calm before the storm.”
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said during the same briefing that “the worst is yet to come” for his state.
Both Carolinas are grappling with the effects of severe flooding, with more flooding expected as rivers crest.
JROTC INSTRUCTOR-SEX CHARGES
JROTC instructor charged with sexual assaults of 2 girls
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – An Air Force JROTC instructor is accused of sexually assaulting two girls at a North Carolina high school.
News outlets report that 52-year-old Bradley Scott Gibson was arrested Wednesday in connection with the assaults, which Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said in a release took place this year and in 2010.
Police say they were notified Sept. 12 of the assault of a 15-year-old at Independence High School. During the course of the investigation, police identified a woman who said shew was 17 when sexually assaulted in 2010.
According to Independence High’s JROTC website, Gibson has taught at the school for a decade. He was a security policeman for 25 years, listing several medals for service during the Gulf War and in Afghanistan.
It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer.
Hurricane floods mix 3.2M gallons of wastewater with creek
(Information from: The Daily News, http://www.jdnews.com)
RICHLANDS, N.C. (AP) – An official at a water utility company in North Carolina says Hurricane Florence’s floodwaters caused 3.2 million gallons of partially-treated wastewater to mix with a creek.
The Daily News of Jacksonville reports the Onslow Sewer and Water Authority says the storm’s rainfall caused water in the Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility in Richlands to rise several feet.
CEO Jeff Hudson says the water “devastated” the plant and fried electrical units used to control and perform the water treatment process. He says the partially-treated wastewater then mixed with floodwaters before draining into Cowhorn Swamp.
Hudson says none of the hazardous chemicals at the plant were mixed with the creek. He says it’s unclear how long repairs will take, and the company is seeking funds to protect the plant against future floods.
TROPICAL WEATHER-TOXIC SITES
Floods prevent inspectors from studying environmental harm
Aerial photographs show widespread devastation to farms and industrial sites in eastern North Carolina.
But conditions remain so bad on the ground that inspectors have been prevented from visiting some of the hardest hit areas to collect samples of the floodwater for lab testing.
Photographs have revealed tell-tale trails of rainbow-colored sheen indicating potential contamination visible on top of the black floodwaters.
State officials say about 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs have been killed in flooding from Florence as rising North Carolina rivers swamped dozens of farm buildings where the animals were being raised for market.
MURDER TRIAL-RELATIVE FRACAS
Warrant: Victim’s relative punched woman during murder trial
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A victim’s relative is accused of punching the sister of a defense witness during a murder trial in North Carolina.
Citing an arrest warrant, the Winston-Salem Journal reports 35-year-old Charles Arthur Goldsmith of Forest Parkway, Georgia, is charged with misdemeanor assault on a female.
Michelle Robertson’s sister, Jeanette Johnson, was testifying on behalf of Billy Jackson Simmons III on Tuesday. Simmons is charged in the 2016 death of Acara Goldsmith.
Robertson says she was going to the restroom and encountered Charles Goldsmith in the lobby. She says he told her, “You dead.” She then said, “No, bad people get killed, and he’s already dead.” She says she wasn’t condoning the victim’s death.
Goldsmith is accused of then punching her twice in the head.
It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer.
UNSECURED GUN-CHILD SHOT
Warrant: Man fell asleep, child shot herself with his gun
(Information from: The Herald-Sun, http://www.herald-sun.com)
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a North Carolina man wanted for armed robbery was arrested when a 5-year-old child shot herself in the hand with his gun.
The Herald-Sun reports that 28-year-old Tyree Devon Hockaday was arrested this week on charges of negligent child abuse and possession of a firearm by a felon. A search warrant says he and the girl’s guardian had brought her to a hospital on Sept. 16.
The guardian told police Hockaday had fallen asleep with his pistol unsecured, and the child found it and accidentally shot herself. Hockaday told police he then hid the gun under a mattress.
During the investigation, police found Hockaday was wanted in a July 29 robbery. It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer.
Durham police spokeswoman Kammie Michael says the child is recovering.