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After Michael’s rampage on Florida Panhandle: ‘Nothing Left’
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) – Hurricane Michael’s pounding waves and winds obliterated row after row of beachfront homes at ground zero on the Florida Panhandle when the epic Category 4 hurricane slammed ashore at midweek. Now recovery is just barely beginning from the catastrophic destruction even as a downgraded Michael spreads high winds, rains and flash flooding misery as far away as Virginia.
At least three deaths have been blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years.
By early Friday it wasn’t nearly over yet: a tropical storm long after Wednesday’s landfall, Michael stubbornly kept up its punch while barreling over land toward an expected exit across the open Atlantic. Forecasters say the storm has already begun shedding its tropical characteristics but will take on a new chapter as a powerful extratropical storm with gale force winds on its trek out to sea.
College to launch program to help middle class families
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – A college in North Carolina is set to launch a new scholarship program to help cover costs for undergraduates from middle class families.
The Charlotte Observer reports the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill is expected to announce the $20 million scholarship fund Friday, which is the school’s 225th birthday.
The program won’t award full scholarships. But it will help cover costs for students from families who don’t qualify for the school’s Carolina Covenant program, which provides a debt-free degree for low-income students. It will provide $7,500 per year, plus $2,500 in annual work-study and a $2,500 one-time grant for studying abroad.
The Blue Sky Scholars program has received $5 million in funding from former school President Erskine Bowles. The school still needs to raise the remaining $15 million.
TROPICAL WEATHER-DEVASTATED TOWN
Harrowing tales of survival from town ravaged by storm
MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Residents of Mexico Beach that stayed during the storm are emerging from the debris with harrowing tales. Others, who evacuated, are coming to grips with the fact that much of their community was destroyed by Hurricane Michael.
Hit head-on by the storm, numerous homes in this Gulf Coast resort town of about 1,190 people were shattered or ripped from their foundations.
Mexico Beach is on the west end of what is sometimes called Florida’s Forgotten Coast, so named because it is not heavily developed like many of the state’s other shoreline areas.
On Thursday, Mexico Beach resident Bob Tenbrunesel rode around town in the back of a pickup truck, surveying the damage. It was upsetting to see all of the places that he loved destroyed.
He said, “This place will never be the same.”
Georgia girl, 11, dies as Michael hurls debris through roof
ATLANTA (AP) – It seemed that Sarah Radney was safe inside her grandparents’ home when Hurricane Michael roared into southwest Georgia after smashing across the Florida Panhandle. If the family feared anything, it was probably falling trees – not a carport next to the house that would cause a deadly but freak accident.
Authorities say Michael’s powerful winds lifted a portable carport structure next to the house high into the air and slammed it back down on the house. When it landed, one of the legs tore through the roof, fatally striking the 11-year-old girl in the head.
The girl’s death was one of at least three blamed on Michael after it slammed ashore Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle and then blustered across several Southeast states as a still-potent but downgraded storm.
BC-TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Georgia crops hit hard by Hurricane Michael
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) – Georgia’s Department of Agriculture is coordinating efforts to assist recovery in Southwest and Central Georgia, areas most affected by Hurricane Michael.
Commissioner Gary W. Black, in a news release Thursday, said crops, animals and infrastructure have all taken a substantial loss because of the storm.
Black says poultry contributes $23.3 billion to Georgia’s economy and has reported the most widespread power outages and losses. He says 84 chicken houses, estimated to have held more than 2 million chickens, were destroyed. The farms, dairies and processing plants affected were in Appling, Colquitt, Coffee, Decatur, Evans, Houston, Mitchell, Randolph, Lee and Wilcox counties.
Damaging winds also drove much of the cotton crop to the ground for a total loss or tangled it, making it harder to extract clean lint during the ginning process. Assessments for peanuts and pecans are ongoing.
Former North Carolina House co-speaker Morgan dies at age 66
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Republican who forged a power-sharing arrangement in a deadlocked North Carolina House 15 years ago that made him the co-speaker has died.
The Kennedy Funeral Home in Robbins confirmed Richard T. Morgan died Wednesday at Duke University Medical Center at age 66.
The Moore County Republican joined the House in 1991 and four years later became the powerful rules committee chairman when Republicans took over the House for the first time in 100 years.
In 2003, he brokered a first-of-its-kind deal in the state with Democrats to share speakership duties with Jim Black. The co-speakership lasted two years, and Morgan lost his House seat in 2006 in a Republican primary as GOP factions fought over his decision to work with Democrats.
Morgan’s funeral will be Sunday in West End.
US pastor detained in Turkey may soon be released
WASHINGTON (AP) – An American pastor may soon be released after two years of captivity in Turkey.
A person involved in efforts to free Andrew Brunson say the 50-year-old evangelical pastor from North Carolina could be freed at his next court appearance on Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because officials had not yet reached a final agreement on the release and it could still fall through.
Brunson was among thousands of people arrested in Turkey in police sweeps following a failed July 2016 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that the U.S. is hopeful he will soon be released.
Brunson is under house arrest but could get up to 35 years in prison if convicted on charges that his lawyers say are baseless.
Fixer says he made cash payment in college hoops scheme
NEW YORK (AP) – A government witness at a college basketball corruption trial claims he made a secret $40,000 payment to the inner circle of a North Carolina State recruit.
Thomas “T.J.” Gassnola told a jury on Thursday that he delivered the cash to an assistant coach at the school in 2015. He said the coach was to give it to a personal trainer for the recruit, Dennis Smith Jr.
Gassnola has pleaded guilty in an alleged scheme to pay off top prospects’ families to get them to sign with programs sponsored by Adidas.
A former Adidas executive, a former amateur league director and a business manager are on trial in a Manhattan federal court.
Smith spent one year at North Carolina State and now plays for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.