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September 17, 2018 - 12:00 am


The Latest: More N Carolina counties qualify for federal aid

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — More North Carolina counties have qualified for federal disaster aid for their homeowners, renters and businesses reeling from Hurricane Florence damage.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced late Monday that 10 additional counties have been designated for individual assistance, bringing the total to 18 counties damaged by the storm overall as qualifying for such assistance.

Residents and businesses that have damage should file insurance claims first before applying for government assistance. The aid could include grants or low-interest loans.

The new counties designated Monday are Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Lenoir, Jones, Robeson, Sampson and Wayne counties.

Designating the 18 counties also means the federal government can reimburse state and local governments for debris removal and other emergency actions.


Florence flooding puts dams, many high hazard, to the test

Devastating flooding in North Carolina in the aftermath of Florence has raised concerns whether dams across the state, some of them in poor condition, will be able to hold up under the strain.

State officials have been monitoring dam safety in cooperation with local authorities and say there has been at least one dam breach so far, with no homes affected. But there have been several other locations of concern.

According to data obtained by The Associated Press from the National Inventory of Dams, the state has 1,445 dams rated high hazard out of about 5,700 dams, ranging from large federally owned ones to small private ones. That hazard classification doesn't indicate the likelihood of failure — just that any failure would likely cause the loss of one or more lives.


Pollution fears: Swollen rivers swamp ash dumps, hog farms

Flooded rivers from Florence's rains have begun to swamp coal ash dumps and low-lying hog farms in North Carolina, raising pollution concerns as the swollen waterways approach their crests.

Duke Energy says the weekend collapse of a coal ash landfill at the mothballed L.V. Sutton Power Station near the Cape Fear River in Wilmington is an "on-going situation." At a different power plant near Goldsboro, three old coal ash dumps have been inundated by the Neuse River.

An Associated Press photographer who flew over North Carolina's Trent River saw several flooded hog farms Sunday. Those typically have large pits of hog urine and feces, but regulators say they've no reports so far of any pollution breaches.

Many rivers are forecast to crest Monday at or near record levels.


Feds allow Atlantic Coast pipeline construction to resume

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Federal officials will allow construction to resume on the Atlantic Coast pipeline, weeks after work was halted when a federal appeals court threw out two key permits for the 600-mile (965-kilometer) natural gas pipeline.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced the change in a letter Monday to Dominion Energy, the project's lead developer.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit was "arbitrary and capricious" regarding its effect on five threatened or endangered species. Last week, the service issued a revised opinion and the National Park Service issued a new permit for crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The pipeline is planned to start in West Virginia and run through parts of Virginia and North Carolina.


Death tolls often rise weeks after storm hits

It's not uncommon for death tolls to rise weeks after a natural disaster has hit.

More than six months after Hurricane Irma's catastrophic rampage across the Caribbean and the southeastern United States, the U.S. National Hurricane Center raised the death toll to 129 — more than twice the amount reported at the end of the storm.

It also took years for Hurricane Katrina's death toll to become fully known. That number is still debated today with figures used by different agencies varying by as much as 600 deaths.

President Donald Trump has questioned Puerto Rico's adjusted death toll from the devastating storm last year and said the number rose "like magic."

Disaster experts say realistic death tolls take time.

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