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September 23, 2018 - 12:00 am

TROPICAL WEATHER-HOTEL SWEPT AWAY

Florence sweeps away motel and family's hard work, savings

SPRING LAKE, N.C. (AP) — Hurricane Florence washed away half the rooms at the Starlite Motel in Spring Lake, North Carolina. What's left will probably have to be demolished.

Co-owner Kishor Depani says he and his brothers had saved for years to purchase the property a few months ago. Now they are hoping that the government can help because they didn't have flood insurance.

Depani said in an interview that he and his two brothers invested much of their life savings in the motel about nine months ago. He said that they had paid off little of their mortgage in that short time and estimates that they still owe the bank between $400,000 and $500,000.

TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST

The Latest: Subtropical Storm Leslie forms in north Atlantic

BLADENBORO, N.C. (AP) — Forecasters say Subtropical Storm Leslie has formed in the north Atlantic, far from land.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday morning that Leslie is expected to be short-lived. Leslie is about 1,145 miles (1,840 kilometers) west-southwest of the Azores and has winds of 40 mph (65 kph). The storm is moving 3 mph (5 kph), and little motion is expected in the next two days.

Farther southeast, Tropical Storm Kirk is moving quickly west across the eastern Atlantic and is expected to pick up speed in the next few days. Forecasters say Kirk is about 545 miles (875 kilometers) southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and is moving west at 21 mph (34 kph). Forecasters think the storm will move even faster though Tuesday.

Kirk is expected to strengthen for a few days and then weaken toward the end of the week.

RACETRACK FATAL

Man killed when car crashes during race in Louisiana

(Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com)

AVONDALE, La. (AP) — A North Carolina man driving more than 200 mph (320 kph) has been killed after his vehicle crashed during a race Saturday at NOLA Motorsports Park.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Glen T. Boyd says the fatality happened about 9:20 a.m. Saturday. The man's name has not been released.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports the man was competing in a public event, with drivers taking turns trying to establish the fastest time. Only one vehicle at a time is on the track during these "controlled runs."

Upon exceeding 200 mph (320 kph), officials say the man's vehicle spun and crashed. Boyd says no one else was injured.

NOLA Motorsports' website says a race called WannaGoFast ½ Mile Shootout was scheduled this weekend. An answering service said the race was shut down until further notice.

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FEMA-INVESTIGATION

AP NewsBreak: DHS Secretary says FEMA head won't lose job

WASHINGTON (AP) — Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says the head of the federal disaster response agency did use government vehicles without proper authorization, but will not lose his job over it.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator William "Brock" Long had been under investigation by the Homeland Security Department's watchdog over travel to his home in Hickory, North Carolina. The news of the probe surfaced just as Hurricane Florence was striking the Carolinas.

Nielsen said Friday that she'd reviewed the watchdog's report. She said she has directed Long to reimburse the government. The report by the inspector general has not been made public.

Long said in a statement he took full responsibility for his actions and remains committed to helping the South recover. The House Oversight Committee is also looking into the allegations.

TROPICAL WEATHER-AGRICULTURE

Carolinas farms could take billions in losses from Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Hurricane Florence is testing the resolve of farmers in the Carolinas, who could face billions of dollars in agricultural damage while still feeling the sting from Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Early farm reports confirm pre-storm worries about losses to tobacco, cotton and corn crops. North Carolina industry leaders remain anxious about whether sweet potatoes and peanuts will suffer greatly as well.

North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said Thursday he expected total farm monetary losses to be in the billions in the state. South Carolina crop damage is currently estimated at $125 million.

Tobacco could take the biggest hit among North Carolina field crops. About 40 percent of it was still in the field when Florence arrived, and an industry group projected leaf losses could be $350 million.

TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST

The Latest: Death toll rises to 43 in aftermath of Florence

Authorities say the death toll has now risen to 43 dead in the aftermath of former Hurricane Florence.

A statement released by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's office said Friday evening that there are now 32 confirmed dead in that state. The statement says a 46-year-old man in Brunswick County died when a tree he was cutting fell on him. Other deaths have been reported earlier in South Carolina and Virginia.

Cooper, meanwhile, has praised efforts of first responders who evacuated people from rising floodwaters. His statement says that in the past week, first responders and emergency teams have conducted nearly 5,000 rescues in storm-ravaged areas. That's twice as many people as were saved after Hurricane Matthew.

About 56,000 homes and business remain without power as of Friday afternoon.

CORRECTIONAL OFFICER ARRESTED

Prison guard accused of possessing drug to distribute

(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a North Carolina correctional officer after she was found with 85 strips of a prescription drug used to treat people who have become dependent on opioids.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports N.C. Department of Public Safety says 25-year-old Sequinta Shaquan Alston of Raleigh was arrested at the state prison for women on Thursday. The department said she is charged with possession with intent to sell or distribute a Schedule 3 drug.

Invidior Inc., which makes Suboxone, said the strips with the drug on them are put under the tongue.

Alston is jailed on a $10,000 bond and has been ordered to stay away from any Department of Public Safety property. It's not known if she has an attorney.

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BOMB THREATS-CITY HALL

Man accused of making bomb threats to government buildings.

(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A man is charged by federal prosecutors with making bomb threats to city government buildings in North Carolina.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office said 53-year-old Michael Dexter Brodie was charged Thursday with mailing bomb threat hoaxes to Raleigh City Hall and Durham police headquarters.

According to the indictment returned Sept. 6, the threats were sent in May and June.

A federal magistrate ordered a public defender appointed for Brodie and scheduled a hearing for Sept. 25.

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