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North Carolina judges toss districts drawn for GOP advantage
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina trial court has rejected state legislative district maps, saying lawmakers took extreme advantage from drawing districts to help elect a maximum number of Republicans.
The three-judge panel of state judges ruled Tuesday that courts can step in to decide when partisan advantage goes so far it diminishes democracy.
Republicans argued there’s no clear way for judges to know what kinds of redistricting are unacceptable. Democrats and their allies said the districts were so gerrymandered they unconstitutionally insulated politicians from changing voting behavior.
Common Cause and other plaintiffs asked the court to order half the House districts and 21 of 50 Senate maps redrawn quickly.
An appeal is expected and the outcome could be months away. The state Supreme Court’s composition is 6-1 in favor of Democrats.
TROPICAL WEATHER-STORM LESSONS
Weather-tested residents brace for Dorian on Southeast coast
FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (AP) – Weather-tested residents along the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas are using their past experience with intense storms to guide them as they safeguard their homes and decide whether to heed evacuation orders.
Johns Island resident Ed Bandarovich (ban-DARE-o-vitch) said Tuesday that he decided it was better to be safe than sorry and has boarded up his home.
Dorian weakened to a Category 2 hurricane Tuesday after slamming into the Bahamas as a terrifying Category 5 storm with 185 mph (298 kph) winds.
The threat of a direct hit on Florida had all but evaporated, but Dorian was expected to pass dangerously close to Georgia and South Carolina – and perhaps strike North Carolina – on Thursday or Friday.
Assessment team to gauge safety of river in North Carolina
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – An assessment team is taking a look at a river in North Carolina to see if boaters, rafters and fishermen can use it again.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports a technical team launched boats on the Nantahala River on Tuesday to assess potential hazards and to lessen risks associated with landslides.
One week ago, the U.S. Forest Service closed an 8-mile (12-kilometer) section of the river to boating due to debris. David Uchiyama, a N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman, says four landslides on Aug. 25 brought down 5,000 cubic yards of debris onto U.S. 19/74 in the Nantahala Gorge.
While the road was cleared on Aug. 26, tons of other debris in the river created potentially hazardous conditions for those who would usually be on the river for Labor Day weekend.
TROPICAL WEATHER-EVACUEES HELP
Atlanta comfort Hurricane Dorian evacuees with free services
ATLANTA (AP) – Atlanta is welcoming Hurricane Dorian evacuees with open arms, camping spaces and America’s favorite pastime.
News outlets say Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Atlanta Braves are offering free services to residents from mandatory evacuation areas throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
The Speedway can handle thousands of campers and is offering free spaces to dry RVs and tent campers. They’re also offering limited spaces with water, power and sewer for $20 per night.
The Major League Baseball team is giving out complimentary tickets to games Tuesday and Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Washington Nationals. Evacuees must show valid I.D. at ticket counters while supplies last.
Airbnbs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas are also extending a helping hand by offering free housing to evacuees.
BC-TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Mexico to get drenched by Tropical Storm Fernand
FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) – While Hurricane Dorian moves closer to Florida, two other named storms are blowing in the Atlantic region.
Tropical Storm Fernand is in the Gulf of Mexico and closing in on the Northeast Mexican coast just south of the U.S. border, with top sustained winds near 50 mph (85 kmh) and higher gusts. The hurricane center says heavy rainfall of up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) could fall in places along Mexico’s Gulf Coast and the Sierra Madre Oriental, and could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides as the storm moves ashore Wednesday.
Tropical Storm Gabrielle, meanwhile, is far out in the Atlantic Ocean and poses no threat to land. It is expected to remain a tropical storm on a track far from North America.
BC-TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Florida coast sees tropical storm conditions
FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) – Tropical storm conditions continue along portions of the northeastern coast of Florida as Dorian continues to make its slow trek toward the U.S.
The National Hurricane Center says the deadly storm was centered at 5 a.m. EDT Wednesday about 90 miles (144 kilometers) east of Daytona Beach, Florida. It has top sustained winds of 105 mph (168 kph) as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm is moving north northwest at 8 mph (12 kph), tracking offshore and nearly parallel to Florida’s Atlantic shoreline.
Some weakening is expected during the next couple of days but Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane.
The Miami-based weather center says a turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn toward the north-northeast on Thursday morning. The core of Dorian will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast and the Georgia coast through Wednesday night. The center of Dorian is forecast to move near or over the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina Thursday through Friday morning.
MURDER CHARGE-PARKING LOT
North Carolina woman charged after man hit by car, killed
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have filed multiple charges against a woman who they say ran over a man with her car in a motel parking lot.
Black Mountain police say in a news release that 32-year-old Heather Nicole Johnson of Asheville is charged with second-degree murder and hit-and-run.
Investigators say Johnson intentionally hit Michael Grady Locklear with her car on Aug. 7.
News outlets cite police reports that said Locklear wasn’t cooperative with police after the incident and refused medical treatment. Investigators say he awakened the next morning complaining to his girlfriend that he was hurting. He was taken to an Asheville hospital, where he died several days later.
Johnson is jailed on a $500,000 bond. Online records don’t say if she has an attorney.
TROPICAL WEATHER-ECONOMIC DAMAGE
Floridians hope Dorian’s economic impact will be temporary
Hurricane Dorian is losing strength as it churns closer to the Florida coast, and that’s bringing some cautious relief to the state’s big tourism industry.
By midday Tuesday, Dorian had been downgraded to a category 2 hurricane, and forecasts were lessening the threat of a direct hit on Florida.
Still, more than 2 million people in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas were warned to evacuate. Parts of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, closed early on Tuesday. The Orlando airport shut down, accounting for nearly half the 1,800 U.S. flights that had been canceled by mid-afternoon in the East.
Sean Snaith, an economic forecaster at the University of Central Florida, says the temporary shutdowns will have some effect, but they shouldn’t cause significant harm to jobs or the local economy.