Florence rains continue to flood


Staff & Wire Reports



Coast Guard Road leading to the south end of Emerald Isle is seen after Hurricane Florence hit Emerald Isle, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

Coast Guard Road leading to the south end of Emerald Isle is seen after Hurricane Florence hit Emerald Isle, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)


Rescue personnel evacuate residents as flooding continues in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Spring Lake, N.C., Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)


Gerald Generette, left, and Maurice Miller look onto the Cape Fear River as it continues to rise in the aftermath of Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)


WHAT’S HAPPENING: Rain, floods still in Florence’s forecast

By JENNIFER KAY

Associated Press

Monday, September 17

MIAMI (AP) — The forecast for Florence has not changed, unfortunately: It’s still raining, and rivers are still rising. All roads in and out of a North Carolina city of 120,000 people are underwater. Residents of inland communities who thought they were safe from the storm have to find high ground because of expected flooding. When the sun finally comes out later this week, it’s going to take a long time to dry out.

BY THE NUMBERS

—Storm deaths: Florence is being blamed for at least 18 deaths in the Carolinas, while Typhoon Mangkhut has killed at least 69 people in the Philippines and China.

—Heavy rains: Nearly 34 inches (86 centimeters) of rain fell from Thursday through Sunday in Swansboro, on the North Carolina coast, according to the National Weather Service

—In the dark: About 500,000 outages, mostly in North Carolina

—Protected: About 15,000 people in shelters in North Carolina

—Evacuations: Tens of thousands ordered out of communities along North Carolina’s steadily rising rivers, while over 2.4 million people in southern China’s Guangdong province were warned to escape Mangkhut

—To the rescue: Over 1,000 search-and-rescue personnel with 36 helicopters and over 200 boats were working in North Carolina, and the Defense Department assigned 13,500 military personnel to help relief efforts

—Safe now: North Carolina’s governor says 1,600 people and 300 animals have been moved to safety as of early Monday

—Washed out: 2 U.S. government river monitoring gauges stopped transmitting after waters reached 21.5 feet (6.5 meters) and 24.2 feet (7 meters), and more gauges were expected to fail as rivers continued rising

IMAGES FROM THE GROUND

Images captured by Associated Press journalists show flooding caused by Florence in the Carolinas and Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines.

POWERFUL MANGKHUT

About 50 poor miners and their families sought refuge from Typhoon Mangkhut in a chapel, but it appears unlikely that any survivors will be pulled from the shelter that ended up buried by a landslide . Mangkhut weakened from a typhoon to a tropical storm as it moved deeper into southern China on Monday.

FLORENCE’S VICTIMS

A 3-month-old baby boy whose North Carolina mobile home was split by a falling pine tree is among at least 18 deaths linked to Florence. Authorities also have recovered the body of 1-year-old North Carolina boy who was swept from his mother’s arms by floodwaters.

TOXIC SITES

The Carolinas’ swollen rivers were beginning to swamp coal ash dumps and low-lying hog farms , raising concerns about water pollution. Two power plants in North Carolina reported problems with coal ash dumps, but state environmental regulators said Sunday they had not yet heard about any potential contamination streaming from flooded hog farms.

DAM HAZARDS

Something else to worry about: some dams might not be able to hold up under the strain of the devastating flooding in North Carolina. According to data obtained by The Associated Press, the state has 1,445 dams rated high hazard, and 185 of those structures had conditions of poor or unsatisfactory during recent inspections.

STORM STORIES

Among the survivors encountered by Associated Press journalists this weekend was Lionel Atkinson, who drove to check on his mother in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and ended up stranded at her house because nearby roadways flooded and made it too risky for him to try and get home. Atkinson’s mother watched water rising in her street and declared, “Me personally, I don’t have any fear.”

STILL TALKING ABOUT MARIA

While dealing with Florence in the Carolinas, the Trump administration’s disaster relief chief found himself talking on Sunday news shows about the death toll in Puerto Rico from last year’s Hurricane Maria, which President Donald Trump loudly disputed on Twitter. Brock Long of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said “the numbers are all over the place” and “there’s just too much blame going around.”

DEATH TOLL DEBATES

It could be months before the number of fatalities caused by Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut to be fully known, and it’s common for these kinds of tallies to sharply escalate as officials take account of the deaths indirectly caused by a storm. Disaster experts say it’s often difficult to quickly confirm hurricane-related fatalities because of the vast regions storms can affect.

For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

Florence to lash Carolinas with coastal battering, hammering winds and inland flooding through weekend

The slow forward motion will translate to not hours of heavy rain and strong winds but days of both in many cases. The worst part of Florence, inland flooding, may be yet to come.

AccuWeather Global Weather Center – September 15, 2018

As Florence meanders, torrential rain, strong winds and flooding will take a heavy toll on the Carolinas this weekend.

AccuWeather meteorologists expect Florence to take a general westward drift from North Carolina to South Carolina into Sunday. This drift will be meandering at times with stalls, small loops and zigzags as the center wobbles along.

Florence into Monday AM

Florence made landfall at 7:15 a.m. EDT Friday near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

While Florence’s intense winds will ease off, the storm’s proximity to the coast will allow the storm to tap rich moisture from the Atlantic Ocean and winds will be slow to diminish.

The slow forward motion will translate to not hours of heavy rain and strong winds but days of both in many cases. The worst part of Florence, inland flooding, may be yet to come.

Florence impacts through Monday

Florence’s slow motion will pose great risk to lives and take a costly toll on property.

“AccuWeather estimates that Florence will cause $30-60 billion in economic impact and damage. To put this in context, we correctly predicted the full extent of Hurricane Harvey’s economic damage to be $190 billion last year. While we expect an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 40 inches of rain, extensive inland flooding and storm surge flooding from Florence, Hurricane Harvey unleashed more than 60 inches of rain locally centered around the United States’ fourth largest city, Houston, which has a population of 2.3 million,” AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel N. Myers said.

“For further context, we accurately estimated the total economic impact from Hurricane Irma would be $100 billion. Additionally, Florence’s projected toll is less than Hurricane Sandy’s toll of $69 billion and Katrina’s cost of $161 billion,” Myers said.

“Other sources are predicting a financial toll for Florence of up to $170 billion, and we think that is extreme when looking at Florence’s track and impacts to people and their lives. Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm Friday morning. Storms of this magnitude have struck the U.S. coastline in the past, in some cases causing $10 billion or less in total damage,” Myers said.

The Conversation

The science, skill – and luck – behind evacuation order calls

September 17, 2018

Author

Susan L. Cutter

Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography and Director Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, University of South Carolina

Disclosure statement

Susan L. Cutter receives funding from South Carolina Emergency Management Division, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Science Foundation.

Partners

University of South Carolina provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

More than 1 million people in the Carolinas were ordered to evacuate days before Hurricane Florence hit landfall.

Government officials order coastal evacuation even when it’s sunny at the beach with not a cloud in the sky and no hint of the ominous threat thousands of miles away other than from satellite images. People who know I study hurricane evacuations have often asked me to explain this curious decision.

In the end, evacuation planning is part science, part skill based on experience, and part luck.

Who makes the call

Evacuations are an example of the precautionary principle: protect people from harm before an event occurs. In the case of hurricanes, the harm is the storm surge – the rise in the sea caused by the hurricane over and above the tides. Storm surge is the cause of most deaths and damages from hurricanes, which is why emergency managers are so concerned about it and go to extreme lengths to get people to evacuate for their own safety.

Hurricane planning starts after each hurricane season as city, county and state officials reassess the past season, review operations and update their evacuation zones. In South Carolina, for example, nearly 1.1 million people reside in a designated hurricane evacuation zone, but this number does not include seasonal tourists or students enrolled in coastal colleges and universities. In North Carolina, a million people live in storm surge-prone coastal counties, not including seasonal tourists.

In South Carolina, only the governor can issue a mandatory evacuation order. In North Carolina, the governor has that authority as well, but historically has allowed local leaders to make the call. As reported in The Charlotte Observer, Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said in a news release: “In North Carolina, when to evacuate starts with a local decision because local officials know their communities and their people best. The governor urges residents to follow evacuation orders issued for their areas.”

South Carolina Emergency Management Division

Gov. Cooper did order a state mandatory evacuation for all barrier islands.

While officials seek input from professionals based on science and experience, the final decision to order an evacuation rests with the governor. Some elected officials do not pass these tests well. Poor handling of the timing and execution of hurricane evacuations can have a political consequences for politicians. For Hurricane Florence, South Carolina’s incumbent governor is up for re-election in a few months.

The timing of the order

Two key science-based factors influence the timing of the evacuation order.

The first is the expected arrival of sustained tropical force winds. Sustained winds in excess of 39 miles per hour impede safe passage over bridges and on roadways, and make it dangerous to travel. Using the five-day projection of tropical force winds in advance of the landfall for Hurricane Florence meant an evacuation needed completion no later than Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 at 8 a.m. along the coast. There is uncertainty associated with these forecasts, despite their being updated regularly with National Hurricane Center advisories. Emergency managers must advise the “go/no-go” decision based on imperfect knowledge of when and where the tropical force winds will arrive.

On Sept. 10, 2018, there was a mandatory evacuation order issued to 1 million South Carolinians in designated evacuation areas starting at noon the next day, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. Based on updates in the National Hurricane Center’s track forecast cone, the number dropped to 870,000 residents because the three southern counties were no longer in the forecast cone. Officials in North Carolina issued both mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders also starting on Sept. 11, 2018.

The second science-based factor is clearance time – the time elapsed from when the first vehicle enters the road network to when the last vehicle reaches a point of safety. This includes how long it takes to get ready and potential traffic congestion along the way.

Clearance times need three information inputs for modeling: the road network and its capacity; the number of expected cars (based on population numbers plus estimates of tourists); and the behavioral response of residents. Lane reversals (making all lanes of the major evacuation routes one-y.way out from the coast) improve clearance times. However, the major unknown factor is the behavioral response of residents. Will they stay or will they go? In other words, what percentage of the population will get in their cars and evacuate and how quickly will they do this?

A local hurricane evacuation study (HES) provides the data for generating clearance times. Technical documents cover transportation, demographics and the likely behavior of residents. Using data from the HES, clearance time scenarios are modeled using storm strength to generate time estimates by region.

A worst-case scenario would include slow population response, large numbers of tourists, and a major hurricane of Category 3 or higher. In such a situation in South Carolina, for example, it would take 29 hours to evacuate the northern evacuation zones in the Myrtle Beach area and 35 hours for the Charleston region – all of which needs completion before the tropical force winds arrive. In North Carolina, clearance times range from 17-33 hours depending on the coastal location.

What happens when the storm passes?

It is hard to predict the path of hurricanes, and even more so the behavior of people in response to them. There is a lot of uncertainty in the projections of both, which is why you often hear emergency managers say better to be safe than sorry.

Early estimates suggest that in South Carolina, 70-75 percent of the coastal residents evacuated, which is slightly higher than the 64 percent of people who left in Hurricane Matthew. The strength of Hurricane Florence, hurricane-savvy residents, recent experience over the past four years and the understanding of the deadly nature of storm surge all helped coastal South Carolinians to heed the evacuation order and flee from harm on a sunny, balmy day three days before landfall.

The situation in North Carolina is more complicated given how long the storm has been affecting the coast. The initial evacuation estimates are not available as the response is still ongoing. More worrisome are the additional evacuations inland caused by the heavy rainfall and inland flooding.

As the storm passes evacuees prepare for the next phase of the evacuation — the return home. Only when local officials say it is safe to return can residents go home. The waiting time for the all clear can take days or weeks, and for anxious evacuees, this is often the most stressful part of the entire evacuation experience.

Florence to renew flood concerns in northeastern US early this week

AccuWeather News

Florence to renew flood concerns in northeastern US early this week

Florence will be moving at a faster pace across the Northeast, but the short duration of the storm may not limit its impact on some communities.

AccuWeather Global Weather Center – September 17, 2018 – Florence will unleash disruptive downpours and raise the risk of flooding in the northeastern United States through Tuesday.

While rainfall from the upper Ohio Valley to the central Appalachians and southern New England will not be measured in feet like in North Carolina, even a few inches of rainfall can cause trouble in the saturated Northeast.

The good news is that Florence will be moving at a faster pace across the Northeast, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliott.

“However, even 2-3 inches of rain can bring more flooding concerns since streams and creeks throughout the region are still running high,” Elliott added. Isolated mudslides can also occur in the higher terrain.

Florence into Tuesday PM

There is the potential for as much as 6 inches of rain from western Virginia and the mountains of West Virginia to Pennsylvania, southern New York state and Massachusetts.

About AccuWeather, Inc. and AccuWeather.com

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Download the AccuWeather app today and follow AccuWeather on Facebook and Twitter for the most up-to-date forecasts and warnings, news and information surrounding breaking and spring weather. Visit www.AccuWeather.com for additional information.

Manafort plea deal raises key question: What does he know?

By ERIC TUCKER, CHAD DAY and MICHAEL BALSAMO

Associated Press

Monday, September 17

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Trump associates folded one by one over the last year under the pressure of federal investigators, there was always Paul Manafort.

Until suddenly there wasn’t.

Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, who for months stood resolute in his innocence and determined to fight charge upon charge even as fellow onetime loyalists caved, reached an extraordinary plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Friday that requires him to assist the Russia investigation and converts him into a potentially vital government cooperator.

The deal, struck in Washington just days before Manafort was to have faced a second trial, is tied to Ukrainian political consulting work and unrelated to the Trump campaign.

The question remains what information Manafort, 69, is able to provide about the president, as well as whether the Trump election effort coordinated with Russia.

Manafort’s leadership of the campaign at a time when prosecutors say Russian intelligence was working to sway the election, and his involvement in episodes under scrutiny, may make him an especially insightful witness.

Manafort was among the participants in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in New York with Russians and Trump’s oldest son and son-in-law that was arranged for the campaign to receive derogatory information about Democratic president nominee Hillary Clinton.

He was also a close business associate of a man who U.S. intelligence believes has ties to Russian intelligence. While he was working on the campaign, emails show Manafort discussed providing private briefings for a wealthy Russian businessman close to Vladimir Putin.

“The expectations around Manafort’s cooperation are likely at a level beyond anyone else to date who has agreed to cooperate,” said Jacob Frenkel, a Washington lawyer not involved in the case. “Whether those expectations will be met is the great unknown.”

Manafort had long resisted the idea of cooperating even as prosecutors stacked additional charges against him in Washington and Virginia. Trump had saluted that stance, publicly praising him and suggesting Manafort had been treated worse than gangster Al Capone. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had suggested a pardon might be a possibility after the investigation was concluded.

Then came Friday’s development.

Manafort agreed to provide any information asked of him, testify whenever asked and even work undercover if necessary. The cooperation ensures the investigation will extend far beyond the November elections despite entreaties from the president’s lawyers that Mueller bring it to a close.

The agreement makes Manafort the latest associate of Trump, a president known to place a premium on loyalty among subordinates, to admit guilt and work with investigators in hopes of leniency.

Mueller had already secured cooperation from a former Trump national security adviser who lied to the FBI about discussing sanctions with a Russian ambassador; a Trump campaign aide who broached the idea of a meeting with Putin; and another aide who was indicted alongside Manafort but ultimately turned on him. Trump’s former personal lawyer has separately pleaded guilty in New York.

Manafort was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia and faces an estimated seven to 10 years in prison in that case. The two conspiracy counts he admitted to on Friday carry up to five years, though Manafort’s sentence will ultimately depend on his cooperation.

“He wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life. He’s accepted responsibility. This is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that,” Manafort attorney Kevin Downing said outside court.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted the Manafort case was unrelated to Trump. Giuliani said he spoke to Trump on Friday about Manafort’s plea.

“The president was OK with it,” he said. “In a way, it’s another indication there is no evidence of collusion. All of these charges predate the time Paul spent with the president. And there’s nothing in what he pleaded about collusion.”

It’s unclear how the deal might affect any Manafort pursuit of a pardon from Trump, though Giuliani told Politico before the deal that a plea without a cooperation agreement wouldn’t foreclose the possibility of a pardon.

Under the terms of the deal, Manafort was allowed to plead guilty to just two counts, though the crimes he admitted largely overlap with the conduct alleged in an indictment last year. He abandoned his right to appeal his sentences in Washington and Virginia and agreed to forfeit homes in New York, including a condo in Trump Tower.

But the guilty plea spares Manafort the cost of a weekslong trial that could have added years to the prison time he’s already facing following the Virginia guilty verdicts. A jury there found him guilty of filing false tax returns, failing to report foreign bank accounts and bank fraud. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts.

Prosecutors on Friday presented new information about allegations they were prepared to reveal at trial, which was to have focused on Manafort’s political consulting and lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Russian Party of Regions.

That case alleged that Manafort directed a large-scale U.S. lobbying operation for Ukrainian interests but never registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent despite being required to do so under the law, and that he concealed millions of dollars in income for the consulting work from the IRS.

He also failed to disclose his involvement in lobbying efforts made through a group of former European politicians, known as the Hapsburg Group, who pushed policies beneficial to Ukraine, prosecutors said Friday.

In 2013, one of the politicians and his country’s prime minister met with then-President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office. Manafort was later sent an email that the politicians had “delivered the message of not letting ‘Russians Steal Ukraine from the West.’”

Another allegation revealed Friday concerns Manafort’s efforts to peddle stories to discredit Yanukovych’s opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, and undermine U.S. government support for her.

Prosecutors said he spread stories and secretly coordinated with an Israeli government official to publicize the idea that a U.S. Cabinet official was an anti-Semite for supporting Tymoshenko, “who in turn had formed a political alliance with a Ukraine party that espoused anti-Semitic views,” court documents said.

“I have someone pushing it on the NY Post. Bada bing bada boom,” Manafort wrote to a colleague, prosecutors say.

Online: Read the charges against Manafort: http://apne.ws/M1oQRia

DeWine Joins Coalition Supporting Bill Aimed At Reducing Violence Against Women and Helping Survivors

September 17, 2018

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today joined 55 other state and territorial attorneys general to urge Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The attorneys general sent a letter to congressional leaders urging lawmakers to pass a reauthorization bill before funding for the measure expires later this year.

“Violence and physical aggression has no place in our society, yet too many women continue to be abused,” said Attorney General DeWine. “From ensuring that all Ohioans have access to sexual assault services to testing Ohio’s previously untested sexual assault kits, as Attorney General, I’ve worked to prevent and combat violence and help crime victims get the support and services they need. Passing this legislation renews our commitment to overcoming violence and freeing women from fear.”

Since VAWA was originally passed in 1994, more than $6 billion in grant funding has been awarded to government and nonprofit organizations across the country. The grants have funded training and assistance to address and reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The grants have also funded resources and services to assist survivors, prosecute offenders, and facilitate partnerships between prosecutors, judges, advocates, community organizations, and health care providers. The measure has been reauthorized with bipartisan support in 2000, 2005, and 2013.

In their letter, the attorneys general urge Congress to work together to pass legislation before funding expires to ensure vulnerable victims are not left behind.

The letter was signed by the entire membership of the National Association of Attorneys General including the Attorneys General in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories. A full copy of the letter is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

LINK

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/wealthiest-republican-supporter-in-ohio-quits-party/ar-BBNlUBg

Coast Guard Road leading to the south end of Emerald Isle is seen after Hurricane Florence hit Emerald Isle, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121376060-f676ae328b624ce5805427b32378399e.jpgCoast Guard Road leading to the south end of Emerald Isle is seen after Hurricane Florence hit Emerald Isle, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

Rescue personnel evacuate residents as flooding continues in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Spring Lake, N.C., Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121376060-4525abe3bb504b00a6a5e3797995dd3c.jpgRescue personnel evacuate residents as flooding continues in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Spring Lake, N.C., Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Gerald Generette, left, and Maurice Miller look onto the Cape Fear River as it continues to rise in the aftermath of Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121376060-c6dcaab9ef1b49b18fe48b435d66f8d1.jpgGerald Generette, left, and Maurice Miller look onto the Cape Fear River as it continues to rise in the aftermath of Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Staff & Wire Reports