The Latest: Utility: No negative impacts at flooded ash dump

BLADENBORO, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the remnants of Hurricane Florence (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

Duke Energy says results from samples collected downstream of a flooded North Carolina coal ash dump show no negative impacts to the Cape Fear River.

The data Duke released Monday came from a sample collected over the weekend after a dam breached Friday at the reservoir for the L.V. Sutton Power Station near Wilmington. The results from the sample tested in Duke’s in-house lab are very similar to the data collected upstream of the breached dam, with no elevated readings for lead, arsenic, selenium or other toxic heavy metals contained in coal ash.

State environmental regulators also collected samples. Those results should be available later in the week.

Flooding from Hurricane Florence overtopped a dike at the reservoir, flooding an adjacent dump containing 400,000 tons of coal ash.


6:45 p.m.

Federal officials have approved North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for major federal disaster assistance to help individuals and communities in nine more counties recover from Hurricane Florence.

A news release from the governor’s office Monday said individuals in Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Pitt, Richmond, Scotland and Wilson counties are now able to apply for disaster assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses resulting from the storm.

With the nine additional counties, 27 counties have now been approved for federal assistance. About 80,000 people thus far have registered for disaster assistance and more than $ 26 million in federal disaster assistance has been approved for individuals and families. Additional counties are under consideration with FEMA to be added to the list of included counties.


6:30 p.m.

North Carolina politicians seem to have worked out an agreement to reconvene the legislature to begin addressing Hurricane Florence relief and recovery sooner than first announced.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said Monday that he would issue a proclamation for a special session to begin Oct. 2. Last week the Democrat had set a date for Oct. 9, but Republican legislative leaders said they wanted to meet this Friday instead to address pressing items like public school calendars and financial prep for a federal recovery package.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger wrote Cooper on Monday suggesting the new date for the most urgent matters, then returning the next week to consider state agency funding requests.

Cooper said earlier Monday that he was concerned about travel challenges this week for legislators and the public in the flooded areas, but that an agreement on a session date would be reached.


4:30 p.m.

Authorities have recovered a van they say was swept away last week in South Carolina floodwaters, killing two mental patients being transported in the back.

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson says in a news release that the van was recovered Monday from a river in Marion County.

Thompson has opened an internal investigation into the incident, which happened while two of his deputies were transporting two female mental patients as floodwaters in northeastern South Carolina rose after Hurricane Florence.

The deputies have been placed on leave, and state police and the Highway Patrol are investigating.

It took more than 24 hours to recover the women’s bodies from the sunken van.


Officials say water levels in parts of South Carolina will continue to rise for several days after torrential rains from Hurricane Florence.

State Transportation Secretary Christy Hall told reporters during a news conference Monday in Georgetown that the Waccamaw River in the Conway area is still rising at the rate of about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) per hour.

Transportation officials have constructed barriers along some roads in the Conway area to try to prevent water from washing over roads. That includes Highway 501, a main artery from that area to the tourism center of Myrtle Beach.


4 p.m.

The two interstates in southeastern North Carolina closed by Hurricane Florence’s floodwaters have reopened in a period spanning less than 24 hours.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Monday that Interstate 40 is now clear all the way to Wilmington. Interstate 95 reopened late Sunday.

The state Department of Transportation had warned last week that it could be this coming weekend or longer before both major interstates would be clear again. But DOT Secretary Jim Trogdon says the waters receded much more quickly than they anticipated and road damage was either not as grave or repaired quickly.

Trogdon says 400 roads statewide are still closed and nearly 1,900 road sites will require work in the coming weeks and months.

Cooper says power outages have fallen from a peak of 800,000 customers to 5,000. There are still 2,200 people in shelters, and the state has contacted over 4,700 displaced residents to see if they need hotel rooms for the near future.


3:30 p.m.

Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence are topping roads and bridges and entering buildings in South Carolina.

Georgetown County Administrator Sel Hemingway said Monday afternoon that the flooding is going to get worse until early Thursday morning.

State officials have created a detailed map with flooding forecasts that has allowed an unprecedented amount of preparation.

Hemingway says current predictions would top all main roads into Georgetown except U.S. Highway 521 for at least several hours if not more than a day.

The county has recommended about 8,000 people who are going to be flooded leave their homes. Hemingway says most of them only have to move a mile (1.6 kilometers) or less to safety.


3:15 p.m.

North Carolina’s governor says all of Interstate 40 has been reopened to traffic after floodwaters from Florence closed it.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday that floodwaters receded more quickly than originally anticipated

The Department of Transportation had said late last week that I-40 probably wouldn’t reopen until this coming weekend.

Stretches of Interstates 95 and 40 were underwater in the wake of the storm.


2 p.m.

North Carolina legislators say they’re working on a disaster relief bill that will address extended public school closures and teacher pay issues resulting from Hurricane Florence.

Republican state education leaders announced Monday in Wilmington that they’re planning legislation designed to ensure teachers at still-shuttered schools that they will get paid without using vacation time.

Sen. Michael Lee of Wilmington, Rep. Craig Horn of Weddington and state Superintendent Mark Johnson also discussed adjusting the school calendar law to address lost classroom time because of closures.

Horn says changes would apply to schools both in the worst damaged areas and those that didn’t take direct hits.

The proposal would be part of broader disaster funding legislation the General Assembly will consider in an anticipated special session.


A hydrologist says most areas of the Carolinas have seen the worst of the flooding but people need to remain cautious.

National Weather Service hydrologist Todd Hamill says most of the rivers have crested and that water is moving toward the coast.

Hammill says numerous river crests set records across the Carolinas and though some spots are still in record flood stage, most are at the lower, major flooding stage. People there “still need to be cautious.”

He says one exception to that improving picture is the Conway river basin in South Carolina, where the Pee Dee and the Waccamaw rivers are still a day or so from cresting. Officials are working to get information to people there to make sure they take precautions.


11:30 a.m.

Residents in a coastal South Carolina county are being urged to evacuate ahead of river flooding as all that water dumped by Hurricane Florence works its way out to sea.

Georgetown County emergency officials said Monday morning that the county is now on its highest state of alert because of the dangers of flooding along the Waccamaw River, the Pee Dee River and the Intracoastal Waterway.

The county warns that even people who do not live in flood zones should get out if they can, because road conditions could leave them isolated.

Shelters opened early Monday at Georgetown High School in Georgetown and Waccamaw Middle School at Pawleys Island.

The Waccamaw River was at 20.75 (6 meters) feet at Conway at 10 a.m. Monday. That’s already more than 3 feet (1 meter) above the previous record. It’s expected to peak at 22 feet (6.7 meters) at Conway on Wednesday. Conway is about 35 miles (55 kilometers) northeast from Georgetown.


7 a.m.

Hurricane Florence is by no means done with the Carolinas, where some rivers are still rising and thousands of people were told to plan to leave their homes on Monday before rivers reach their crest.

About 6,000 to 8,000 people in Georgetown County, South Carolina, were alerted to be prepared to evacuate potential flood zones ahead of a “record event” of up to 10 feet (3 meters) of flooding, which is expected to begin Tuesday near parts of the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers, county spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said.

The county’s emergency management director, Sam Hodge, said in a video message posted online that authorities are closely watching river gauges, and law enforcement would be going door to door in any threatened areas.


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