The Latest: 3 North Carolina TV stations running out of fuel
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on Tropical Depression Florence (all times local):
Three television stations in a hurricane-ravaged North Carolina city are about to go dark because there’s no gas to keep their generators running.
WWAY-TV in Wilmington reported that engineers braved the wrath of Hurricane Florence to switch the transmitters to generator power after electricity to the site went out. In addition, WECT and WSFX also lost power to their own transmitters, so the WWAY technicians switched those stations to generator power as well.
The stations made arrangements before the storm to have fuel available to refill the generators, but flooding in the area has made it impossible to get gasoline to the tower. WWAY briefly went off the air around 3 p.m. WECT and WSFX are also expected to run out of fuel soon and could lose their over-the-air signals.
The statement from WWAY said the stations have been working with local, state and federal officials to determine how to access the transmitter site by ground or air to provide information to the area during recovery from the storm.
Many areas in South Carolina’s northeastern corner are already covered in water as the state prepares for what officials say could be as much as a foot more of water flowing into the state’s rivers following Florence.
A reporter traveling with Gov. Henry McMaster aboard a National Guard helicopter Monday saw homes, businesses and other structures already surrounded by water as river levels continue to rise.
The tiny town of Nichols was nearly entirely destroyed in the flooding that followed Hurricane Matthew in 2016. On Monday, a river that flows alongside the town was swollen, and local officials say they were trying to evacuate all residents.
Areas from Florence to Chesterfield, Conway and Dillon were dotted with expanses of water Monday. Officials say rivers in the area may not crest for several more days.
President Donald Trump says the aftermath of last year’s hurricanes in Puerto Rico have been an “incredible, tough situation” but adds, “we fought, and we are winning that one big.”
Trump is speaking at a White House event honoring Hispanic Heritage Month. Trump is recognizing Puerto Rican Lt. Gov. Luis Rivera Marín and says “we stand with Puerto Rico” and will help the island rebuild “stronger and better than ever before.”
The president last week disputed the death toll in Puerto Rico from last year’s Hurricane Maria.
Trump is also addressing the impact of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas. He says, “We will do whatever it takes to keep the American people safe,” and the nation grieves for those who have lost loved ones in the storm.
Authorities in Virginia say one person is dead after an apparent tornado touched down in the Richmond area and caused a building to collapse.
Chesterfield Fire/EMS spokesman Lt. Jason Elmore said a second person was taken to the hospital with minor injuries Monday, and that all the people at Old Dominion Flooring have been accounted for.
Dominion Energy reported 6,000 customers in the Richmond area were without power due to Monday’s storm.
Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesman Jeff Caldwell said his agency considers the storms part of the remnants of Hurricane Florence, which left flooding rains across much of North Carolina over the weekend.
Caldwell said the department is tracking at least seven potential tornadoes in the Richmond area. He said the tornadoes still need to be confirmed by the National Weather Service.
North Carolina’s elections officials are assessing the possible effects of Hurricane Florence on county boards and the 2018 vote.
The State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement said in a statement Monday that it’s communicating with elections officials in the state’s 100 counties. It also has contacted leaders of the state’s political parties to keep them up-to-date on the situation.
The state board said it’s already sending out state ballots for several counties that can’t do so because of flooding, power and internet outages or because their offices are inaccessible.
Registered voters in North Carolina may vote by mail; vote in person from Oct. 17 through Nov. 3; or vote on Election Day, Nov. 6.
A mission to observe flooding in northeastern South Carolina has turned into a rescue mission after Gov. Henry McMaster spotted a pair stranded on a flooded vehicle.
McMaster was touring portions of Chesterfield County in a National Guard helicopter on Monday when he spotted two people lying down on a vehicle nearly completely submerged in rushing flood waters. Sheriff Jay Brooks radioed to the ground to dispatch a rescue crew.
A few moments later, McMaster asked Guardsmen to land the chopper to observe the rescue. On the ground, he watched as the two people safely got into a rescue boat and flashed him a thumbs up.
McMaster says officials in this area have told him local water sources in this area are nearly 10 inches (25 centimeters) higher than normal. Officials expect as much as a foot (30 centimeters) more as river basins absorb more water flowing into the state from North Carolina following Florence’s torrential rains.
About 60 children in state custody along the coast of North Carolina have been evacuated to a YMCA conference center in the western mountains.
The Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina chose to evacuate its residential center in Lake Waccamaw on Wednesday. They had hoped to return on Monday, but their facility is about 40 miles west of Wilmington and has been hit with heavy flooding, damaging a few buildings. Vice President Tom Huggins said they hope to return on Thursday.
Chaplin Joe Kennedy said most of the children range in age from 13 to 18.
He says most of the children are from the flat, coastal regions of North Carolina and had never seen mountains before. A few of them went on hikes and have helped clean the trails of debris from the storm.
Forecasters say Florence has transitioned into a post-tropical cyclone that still carries heavy rains and gusty winds.
According to the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center, Florence has become an increasingly elongated low-pressure area that’s still producing heavy rain over parts of the Mid-Atlantic.
By 5 p.m. Monday, the system had top sustained winds of 25 mph (35 kph). It was centered about 85 miles west-southwest of Morgantown, West Virginia, and moving east-northeast at 14 mph (22 kph).
Forecasters say catastrophic flooding continued Monday in the Carolinas, and flash flooding and tornado risks were expected as far north as Pennsylvania.
Skies are mostly clear above Fayetteville, North Carolina as days of rain brought by Tropical Storm Florence have passed, but rivers in the city and the surrounding region continue to flood.
The Cape Fear River on Monday reached a level of nearly 54 feet (16 meters), and is set to crest at 62 feet (19 meters) Tuesday. Rushing brown water lapped at the bottom of the span of a rail bridge crossing the river. The piles supporting the bridge had been still visible just one day before.
The Little River, a tributary of the Cape Fear River, reached 34 feet (10 meters) in Spring Lake near Fort Bragg on Monday afternoon, rushing across roads, flooding a motel, and leaving a cemetery under water.
City of Fayetteville spokesman Kevin Arrata says 62 water rescues have been performed so far in Fayetteville and the surrounding area.
A flood watch remained in effect until late Monday in portions of far southern and eastern West Virginia with locally heavy rain a possibility. By Monday evening most of the state was spared the storm’s wrath and most remnants of Florence had exited the state. A warning for minor flooding was posted for the Shenandoah River in the state’s Eastern Panhandle from Tuesday night through Wednesday night.
Appalachian Power reported about 2,400 customers were without electricity in southern West Virginia late Monday afternoon. FirstEnergy reported a few hundred outages in northern and eastern sections of the state.
A tornado has touched down just outside of Richmond, Virginia — at least the second tornado to hit the state as the remnants of Hurricane Florence passes through.
The National Weather Service said on Twitter that a confirmed tornado was on the ground in Chesterfield County Monday afternoon. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
The county school system said all students in county schools were sheltered in place.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management said earlier that a tornado damaged three properties in Mecklenberg County, which is near the border with North Carolina.
Large swaths of the state have been under flash-flood and tornado watches and warnings as Florence moves north through the state.
Lumberton Fire Chief John Paul Ivey said his firefighters and other Robeson County agencies have responded to hundreds of calls for water rescue and other assistance across the county since Florence began blowing through days ago.
“We’ve been going so hard and fast we don’t have a number yet,” he said when asked if there was a total he could provide.
He said a damage estimate would also come later for the town inundated by floodwater.
He says the river is expected to crest sometime Monday night around 25 feet (8 meters), more than 10 feet (3 meters) above flood stage, which matches weather service data for a Lumberton stream gauge.
Navigation apps like Waze are trying to help motorists avoid hurricane flooding, but local authorities say people shouldn’t rely on them.
Some smartphone map directions in recent days have sent people in North Carolina onto flooded roads and others closed to traffic.
Google-owned Waze said Monday it’s worked with local governments and its own community of volunteer map editors to mark closures of more than 1,300 roads in North Carolina and hundreds more in South Carolina and Virginia.
But the North Carolina Department of Transportation warned in a Twitter post on Sunday night that Waze and other travel apps are unable to keep up with the Florence-caused road closings.
The agency says “it is not safe now to trust them with your life.”
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has 300 people on the ground and is ready to go into places such as Wilmington, North Carolina, as soon as it is safe to do so.
Nielsen spoke Monday in Raleigh, North Carolina, before surveying flood damage in Kinston.
Nielsen said she briefed President Donald Trump on Florence response and recovery efforts in the Carolinas on Monday morning. She said the president would arrive himself as soon as it was safe, so as to not disrupt any lifesaving operations.
She urged evacuees to stay where they are until local officials say the danger of more flooding has passed. She also warned people about the dangers of walking or driving in flooded areas.
Federal officials so far have not requested the aid of two U.S. Navy ships that are ready to help with hurricane recovery efforts.
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said Monday that current needs are being met through the National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies.
The National Guard said more than 6,000 personnel have gone to North Carolina and South Carolina. Another 2,000 are on standby. The U.S. Coast Guard said more than 3,000 of its members are responding.
The Navy ships are ready to send in hundreds of Marines and sailors.
FEMA spokesman John Mills said emergency officials still want those ships positioned off the coast to be “ready and available to go in case the situation becomes more dire.”
An economic consulting firm says Hurricane Florence may result in between $17 billion and $22 billion in lost economic output and property damage. That would put Florence in the Top 10 of costliest hurricanes to hit the United States.
Economists at Moody’s Analytics caution that this estimate could be revised significantly higher as more information comes in on the extent of inland flooding.
The consulting firm says it is putting property losses at between $16 billion and $20 billion and lost economic output at between $1 billion and $2 billion. The total cost of hurricanes has been rising because of increased construction in coastal areas and more severe flooding associated with rising sea levels.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol says rains spawned by Hurricane Florence are to blame for a fatal crash which killed a Florida truck driver.
First Sgt. J.E. Dowdle said 56-year-old Orville King III of Jacksonville, Florida, was driving north on Interstate 85 near Kings Mountain on Sunday. Dowdle said a car was passing King in the left lane when both vehicles hydroplaned. King slid off the right side of the road and struck a tree.
Dowdle said the accident was the worst he’d seen in his career. He said the 18-wheeler split in half and King died at the scene. The trooper said the other driver wasn’t hurt.
Kings Mountain is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Charlotte.
Virginia officials say a tornado touched down and damaged three properties in the southern part of the state near the border with North Carolina.
Virginia Department of Emergency Management State Coordinator Jeff Stern said the tornado touched down in Mecklenburg County on Monday.
Stern said there were no reports of injuries, and two homes and a trailer were damaged.
Much of the western part of Virginia has been under flash-flood and tornado watches as Florence circles north.
President Donald Trump says his administration “will not rest” until the “job is done” in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
The president is offering his thoughts to the people of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and everyone else who has been affected by the storm.
Trump tells reporters at the White House that 20,000 federal personnel have been deployed. He says they are “putting their lives on the line.”
Florence is being blamed for at least 20 deaths in the Carolinas and the storm has left about 500,000 customers without power, most of them in North Carolina.
Officials in a coastal North Carolina city and county without road access say the situation is improving, but they’re still waiting for rivers to crest from the massive rains dropped by Hurricane Florence.
The mayor of Wilmington and the chair of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners said at a news conference Monday that evacuees cannot return to most of the county. Board chairman Woody White said residents of Carolina and Kure beaches could return as of noon Monday.
White says 20 trucks with supplies arrived Monday from Fort Bragg via a route that authorities found for them. He says three distribution centers will be operating no later than 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says he’s working with the governor’s office to get more fuel into the city and that “at this time, things are moving as well as can be in the city.”
Officials say an 88-year-old man is dead after his car was swept off a North Carolina road by floodwaters.
Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said at a news conference Monday that 88-year-old Clayborn Lee Wright of neighboring Anson County was found dead Monday morning. He says Wright’s car was swept off the road by floodwater overnight. He says the window of the car was open so he may have tried to escape.
Union County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Underwood said Wright’s death was one of two storm-related deaths in the county overnight. The other was 1-year-old Kaiden Lee-Welch, whose mother told authorities she was swept off the road by floodwaters Sunday night after driving past barricades on the way to visit relatives. She said she lost her grip on her son in the deep water.
Florence has been blamed for at least 20 deaths in the Carolinas.
Two North Carolina school systems are apologizing for scheduling classes after flooding made some roads impassable and one school was caught in a ditch near a flooded road.
News outlets report the Durham County and Orange County school systems issued the apology Monday. In Durham County, school officials said that while they made the best decision they could, they were sorry for “the difficulties that came from our decision to open school.”
Orange County Schools also apologized on its Facebook page after students were forced to wait for the bus in the rain, standing beside flooded roads. The statement said officials tried to make a decision to keep schools open using the best information it had at the time. “We got it wrong, and we apologize for that.”
Parents voiced their concerns on social media, spurred by a video which showed a bus plowing through floodwaters. Emergency officials were dispatched after a report that a school bus headed to an elementary school was caught on a flooded road in Durham.
The U.S. military said it’s ready to respond to communities ravaged by Hurricane Florence “at a moment’s notice.”
The U.S. Northern Command on Monday tweeted a quote from Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy. He said he anticipates the military will play a role in response efforts to the Carolinas.
The general said those efforts include search-and-rescue operations and deploying high-water vehicles and swift-water boats in areas with extreme flooding.
Two U.S. Navy ships are in position near the East Coast. They’re ready to send in hundreds of Marines and sailors as well as helicopters, landing boats, ground vehicles and generators.
North Carolina environmental regulators say several open-air manure pits at hog farms have failed and are spilling pollution.
Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan said Monday that the earthen dam at one hog lagoon in Duplin County had been breached. There were also seven reports of lagoon levels going over their tops or being inundated in Jones and Pender counties.
Regan said state investigators will visit the sites as conditions allow.
The large pits at hog farms hold feces and urine from the animals to be sprayed on nearby fields.
The Associated Press published photos of a hog farm outside Trenton on Sunday where a waste pit was completely submerged under floodwaters. The N.C. Pork Council, an industry trade group, later denied there had been any reports of spills.
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has dispatched a small team of workers onto the campus to assess damage in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
In an email sent Monday, officials said the school would remain closed through next Monday, adding that the school won’t necessarily reopen on that day. The statement said that means there will be no classes at the school this week. The statement also notes substantial progress has been made in developing a plan for what lies ahead for the school, which has an enrollment of nearly 17,000.
The email cites state and local authorities who say people should not try to return to Wilmington from outside the area, nor should they be traveling on local roads.
North Carolina’s top transportation official says there is now some access into the city of Wilmington, previously cut off by floods from former Hurricane Florence.
Department of Transportation Secretary James Trogdon said Monday that there is one major accessible route into the city of nearly 120,000.
He did not say what road that is, and no other details were available immediately.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the crisis “continues” in his state due to flooding and tornadoes from Florence.
Cooper said at a news conference Monday that “the danger is still immediate.”
He said floodwaters continue to rise as rivers crest “and they will for days.”
Cooper said first responders have rescued and evacuated more than 2,600 people and 300 animals from flooded areas so far. He said about 484,000 people in North Carolina are without electricity.
Air travel was returning to near normal levels in the Florence-hit Southeast on Monday.
According to tracking service FlightAware, about 200 U.S. flights had been canceled by midday, almost all due to the storm and its aftermath. That was down sharply from the weekend.
More than half of Monday’s cancellations were in Charlotte or Wilmington, North Carolina. The Wilmington airport remained closed to airlines, and officials said they were waiting for parts to repair a generator breakdown that left the terminal without power. The entire city of Wilmington is currently cut off by floodwaters.
About 3,500 flights were canceled Wednesday, when the storm was approaching the Carolina coast, through Sunday.
State transportation officials say heavy rains from Tropical Depression Florence have spared most of the western North Carolina mountains.
State Department of Transportation spokesman David Uchiyama (yoo CHI yama) says that as of Monday afternoon, four roads were closed in Yancey County. But he said all of those should be open by the end of the day.
In Henderson County, heavy rains delayed repairs on highway 9 from a previous mud slide that happened June 5. Crews were busy cleaning up dirt that had clogged the roadway. Uchiyama said that road will be open by the end of the day.
Uchiyama says so far the area has had “no other significant damages.”
But he also warned that the area is always at risk of mudslides. He said they can happen without warning, sometimes several days or weeks after heavy rainfall.
Workers with the restaurant chain Waffle House are being brought in from around the country to help keep the company’s locations up and running in areas affected by Florence.
Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer was picking up a team at the Wilmington, North Carolina, airport on Monday. Ehmer spoke to The Associated Press by phone.
Ehmer says about 150 workers had been brought in as of Monday as part of the company’s emergency response team. He says it’s part of the company’s culture to never close. The extra hands were partly needed because some local workers had to evacuate.
The chain is so well known for staying open no matter what that former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate created the so-called Waffle House Index. Fugate used the restaurants as a benchmark for how quickly local communities could rebound from hurricanes. Under the index, a closed Waffle House was a bad sign.
Ehmer says Waffle House is having to fly some food into Wilmington, which has been cut off from road access by Florence’s floodwaters.
Authorities say two homes in North Carolina were slightly damaged by a suspected tornado.
Wayne County spokesman Joel Gillie said the tornado landed early Monday near Pikeville, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Goldsboro.
Gillie says no one was hurt, but the powerful winds spinning off the remnants of Florence caused major damage to the roof of one home.
A rail company says it’s investigating whether heavy rains from Florence contributed to a train derailment in North Carolina.
CSX said in a news release that the derailment happened Sunday night in Anson County, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Charlotte.
The railroad company said nine locomotives and five railcars ran off the track.
The company said none of the cars was carrying hazardous materials. But some of the locomotives spilled diesel fuel and motor oil. The company says it is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the cleanup. The two train crew members were taken to local hospitals to be treated for minor injuries.
A weakening Tropical Depression Florence is forecast to drop up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain over parts of the Mid-Atlantic and New England over the next few days.
By 11 a.m. Monday, Florence was centered about 240 miles (385 kilometers) west of Charlottesville, Virginia, and moving northeast at 15 mph (24 kph).
The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, says Florence’s top sustained winds have dropped to 25 mph (35 kph) but the system still poses an excessive rain threat.
Forecasters say tornadoes also were possible Monday from the Carolinas into parts of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Authorities say two homes in North Carolina were slightly damaged by a suspected tornado early Monday. No one was injured.
A North Carolina sheriff’s office says it has recovered the body of a 1-year-old boy who was swept away by floodwaters after his mother lost her grip on him.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office identified the boy on its Facebook page Monday as Kaiden Lee-Welch.
Spokesman Tony Underwood said a woman and her child were on their way to visit relatives when she drove past some barricades on N.C. Highway 218 in northern Union County. The woman later told authorities someone had pushed the barricades to the side a little, making her think it was OK to go through.
The woman’s car was swept off the road by the floodwaters, pinning it against a group of trees. She was able to free 1-year-old Kaiden Lee-Welch from his car seat and escape. But the waters were deep, and Underwood said the woman lost her grip and her son was swept away.
Two U.S. Navy warships carrying helicopters and rescue equipment are in position off the East Coast to help with the response to hurricane-turned-Tropical Depression Florence.
The U.S. Navy said in a statement Monday that the amphibious attack assault ship USS Kearsarge and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington are available to provide support if it’s requested by civilian officials.
The ships are ready deploy hundreds of Marines and sailors as well as Osprey aircraft, helicopters, landing boats, ground vehicles and generators. The sailors and Marines are capable of conducting search-and-rescue missions as well as clearing debris.
Military officials said the USNS Comfort hospital ship has not been deployed because communities surrounding the disaster area are able to provide adequate medical services.
President Donald Trump has approved federal funding to aid recovery efforts in areas of South Carolina affected by Florence.
In a news release Monday, the White House said Trump had declared that a major disaster exists in the state. He ordered that federal aid be used “to supplement state, tribal and local” recovery efforts in the state.
The devastating flooding in North Carolina from Florence has raised concerns about whether some dams will be able to hold up under the strain.
According to data obtained by The Associated Press, the state has 1,445 dams rated high hazard. That’s out of a total of about 5,700 dams that range from large federal ones to small privately owned ones.
A high hazard classification means a failure could be likely to cause the loss of one or more human lives.
The data show that of the state’s high-hazard dams, 185 had conditions of poor or unsatisfactory during recent inspections.
The data comes from the National Inventory of Dams.
Florence has left about 500,000 customers without power, most of them in North Carolina.
About 467,000 customers were without service in North Carolina, including in the Wilmington area, which is surrounded by floodwaters and has been cut off.
About 17,000 customers were without service in South Carolina, mostly in northeastern South Carolina near the North Carolina state line.
About 12,000 customers were without service in Virginia. Most of those were the southwestern part of the state.
Dozens of roads are closed in the western parts of Virginia as Florence circles its way across the state.
State transportation officials said early Monday that roads are blocked by downed trees or covered with standing water.
Appalachian Power reported more than 7,000 Virginia customers were without power early Tuesday.
Florence brought heavy rains to parts of Virginia late Sunday and early Monday as the storm trekked north. Virginia officials have warned residents to brace for significant rainfall and possible flash flooding in the southwest and southern part of the state. The city of Roanoke asked residents who live in flood plains to voluntarily evacuate.
Officials at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will begin assessing the impact of Tropical Storm Florence.
Park officials said in a statement Monday that areas of the park that straddle Tennessee and North Carolina will be opened to the public once they are deemed safe. Facilities and roads that were closed in anticipation of the storm remained closed early Monday.
Other roads and facilities have remained open, including the Sugarlands and Oconaluftee visitor centers.
Authorities are searching for a 1-year-old boy who was swept away by floodwaters in North Carolina after the boy’s mother lost her grip on him.
Union County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Underwood said a woman and her child were on their way to visit relatives Sunday night when she drove past some barricades on highway 218 in northern Union County. The woman later told authorities someone had pushed the barricades to the side a little, making her think it was OK to go through.
The woman’s car was swept off the road by the floodwaters, pinning it against a group of trees. She was able to free 1-year-old Kaiden Lee-Welch from his car seat and escape. But the waters were deep, and Underwood said the woman lost her grip and her son was swept away.
A train has derailed in North Carolina, but it’s not clear whether it was storm-related.
WBTV reports that the CSX train derailed Sunday evening in Anson County, east of the state’s largest city of Charlotte.
The station says the derailment led to at least one road closure.
The station cites CSX officials as saying that the derailment involved several cars on a train headed to Hamlet, North Carolina.
Officials have reported flooding caused by Tropical Storm Florence in Union County, located between Charlotte and Anson County.
They did not say whether there were any injuries or what the train was carrying.
With Wilmington cut off from the rest of North Carolina by still-rising floodwaters from Florence, officials plan to airlift food and water to a city of nearly 120,000 people as rescuers elsewhere pull inland residents from homes threatened by swollen rivers.
The spreading disaster claimed additional lives Sunday, with at least 17 people confirmed dead, and the nation’s top emergency official said other states were in the path this week.
Brock Long of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says not only to expect more impacts in North Carolina, but also “you are about to see a lot of damage going through West Virginia, all the way up to Ohio as the system exits out.”
In Wilmington, the state’s eighth-largest city, residents waited for hours outside stores and restaurants on Sunday for basic necessities like water. Police guarded the door of one store, and only 10 people were allowed inside at a time.
For the latest on Florence, visit www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes