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Missed deadlines cost millions in potential disaster aid
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Communities starting the long recovery from Hurricane Florence will need to pay close attention to federal deadlines as they document the billions of dollars of damage it caused.
An Associated Press analysis of records from the Federal Emergency Management Agency shows missed deadlines have been one of the most common reasons why FEMA’s top officials have denied appeals for public aid.
In the past 12 months alone, the AP identified well over $100 million of lost appeals from cities, schools and other public entities in which FEMA headquarters cited missed deadlines.
FEMA Deputy Director for Public Assistance Tod Wells says the agency has been “increasingly” enforcing deadlines as part of a plan to cut down on a backlog of appeals and provide reliable guidance for disaster aid applicants.
MISSING HIKER-BODY FOUND
Missing hiker’s body found in Great Smoky Mountains park
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – The body of an Ohio woman has been found a week after she went missing while hiking with her daughter in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
News outlets cite a park release saying Mitzie Sue “Susan” Clements was found Tuesday near the Clingmans Dome parking area and Appalachian Trail on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. Her cause of death is unclear.
The 53-year-old had last been seen Sept. 25, when she and her daughter became separated during a hike.
More than 100 trained searchers combed 500 miles (805 kilometers) looking for the mother of three, assisted by technology.
Clements was an accounting technician for Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District. Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld says the city will look for a way to honor her and support family and co-workers.
BUSINESS I-40 CLOSURE
NCDOT plans open houses to discuss Business I-40 closure
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – The N.C. Department of Transportation is holding open houses in the next two weeks to alert motorists to the planned closure of Business Interstate 40 in Winston-Salem.
A news release from the department said one open house is scheduled for Oct. 9 at BB&T Ballpark, with the next one set for Oct. 16 at the Rhodes Center for the Arts, both in Winston-Salem.
The department said those in attendance at both meetings will receive pocket-sized detour maps of downtown Winston-Salem and will be able to ask questions about the project.
Representatives from the Piedmont Authority Regional Transportation and Winston-Salem Transit Authority will provide information about their programs.
Business 40 is closing between Peters Creek Parkway and U.S. Highway 52 for more than a year beginning in November.
NORTH CAROLINA AWARD
6 to receive North Carolina Award in November ceremony
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Six people will receive North Carolina’s highest civilian honor in November.
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources announced Tuesday Gov. Roy Cooper will present the North Carolina Award at a banquet at the Raleigh Convention Center on Nov. 16. The award was created by the General Assembly in 1961 to recognize significant contributions to the state and nation in fine arts, literature, public service and science.
Among the honorees for 2018 is Bill Leslie, a former reporter and anchor for WRAL-TV In Raleigh whose musical passion led to eight albums celebrating North Carolina’s people, natural beauty and Scotch-Irish heritage.
Also being honored are Carolyn Q. Coleman, Gene Roberts and William L. Roper for Public Service; Michael A. McFee for Literature and Barbara B. Millhouse for Fine Arts.
FLORENCE-SPECIAL SESSION-THE LATEST
The Latest: Unanimous approval given to Florence bills
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina lawmakers have quickly approved their initial legislation designed to address the damage and logistics problems caused by Hurricane Florence.
The General Assembly gave unanimous approval Tuesday to a pair of bills now headed to Gov. Roy Cooper, who is expected to sign them into law. Cooper called legislators back for a special session to begin the recovery for what he called an “unprecedented disaster.”
The bills put more than $56 million in a special Florence disaster relief fund, most of which can be used to match what the federal government provides in a preliminary relief package. They also allow schools in the hardest-hit areas to be forgiven up to 20 lost instructional days and ensure workers in shuttered schools are paid.
The deadline for traditional voter registration applications also would be extended by three days.
Lawmakers are returning Oct. 15 to take up more recovery legislation.
ATF: Hundreds of guns stolen in Memphis seized near Chicago
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Federal authorities say most of the roughly 400 guns stolen from a United Parcel Service facility in Tennessee have been recovered in the Chicago area.
Authorities say they seized about 365 Ruger .22-caliber and .380-caliber firearms after police responded to a call about suspicious activity in the southern Chicago suburb of Midlothian on Sunday afternoon – about 12 hours after the guns were taken from a UPS facility in Memphis. A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent disclosed that information in court documents Tuesday.
ATF had said the guns were shipped from a Ruger factory in North Carolina but were taken by two men in a U-Haul truck, one of whom was subsequently taken into custody. ATF spokesman Michael Knight says the truck also was recovered.
TROPICAL WEATHER-TOXIC SITES
Post-Florence coal ash tests at 1 site yet to raise alarms
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina environmental officials say sludge washed from buried coal-ash pits by Hurricane Florence’s flood waters hasn’t polluted a neighboring river with heavy metals at levels concerning to human health.
State officials say water samples taken from three sites near Duke Energy Corp.’s closed H.F. Lee power plant in Goldsboro more than a week after Florence hit the state, found arsenic, mercury and three other metals within acceptable levels.
But a Duke University coal ash expert cautioned Tuesday the initial tests for contamination of the Neuse River don’t tell the full story. Water quality professor Avner Vengosh says that’s because neither the state nor environmentalists have measured pollutants that may have dropped to the river bottom and are likely to linger in the sediment.
Biesecker reported from Washington, D.C.
Florence death toll in North Carolina rises by 2, to 39
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The number of deaths in North Carolina from Hurricane Florence has risen by two, bringing the state’s total to 39.
Gov. Roy Cooper’s office announced in a statement Tuesday that the two fatalities involved people killed during storm cleanup last month.
The governor’s office says a 47-year-old man was found dead outside a Duplin County home on Sept. 21 due to a head injury he received after falling from a ladder while repairing storm damage. Officials say a 69-year-old man in Pender County died on Sept. 22 after falling from a roof while cleaning storm debris and repairing damage.
Florence dumped more than 30 inches (75 centimeters) of rain in parts of eastern North Carolina last month. Tens of thousands of buildings were damaged and thousands of homes were rendered uninhabitable.