Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EDT

September 21, 2018 - 12:00 am

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 feel 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 g 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.

TROPICAL WEATHER-TOXIC SITES

APNewsBreak: Dam breach at Duke plant; coal ash could spill

A dam containing a large lake at a Wilmington power plant has been breached by floodwaters from the storm Florence, and coal ash from an adjacent dump might be flowing into the Cape Fear River.

Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Sheehan told The Associated Press on Friday that floodwaters were continuing to overtop an earthen dike at the north side of Sutton Lake, a 1,100-acre (445-hectare) reservoir at the L.V. Sutton Power Station. That water has caused breaches in the dam on the south end of the lake, which is flowing back into the river.

Sheehan said floodwaters also had overtopped a steel retaining wall containing one of three large coal ash dumps lining the lakeshore. Sheehan says Duke can't rule out that ash might be escaping and flowing into the river.

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.

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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STATE FAIR-FOOD PREVIEW

NC State Fair to provide preview of fried food fare

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

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — If you're hankering for a Krispy Kreme burger or deep-fried Oreos and just can't wait for the North Carolina State Fair to open next month, here's a temporary fix.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports fair officials are holding their first "Taste of the State Fair" in four cities across central and eastern North Carolina this weekend. The fair begins on Oct. 11.

The event will be held in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville and Greenville. Selections will be available from food trucks to sample for free when buying advance tickets to the fair, but the food can also be purchased separately without buying fair tickets.

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TROPICAL WEATHER-SURVEYING THE DAMAGE

Reckoning with loss of homes, livelihoods after Florence

SPRING LAKE, N.C. (AP) — With Florence's floodwaters receding in some places and still menacing others, tired and waterlogged North Carolinians are getting a chance to take stock of the destruction.

When rivers spilled from their banks this week, many were forced to flee their homes in multiple inland cities. Now that waters are receding, property owners along its banks are picking through debris and figuring out what's left of their homes and livelihood.

In a flooded Lumberton neighborhood, Kevin Caudle has donned waders to wade in and check on his house multiple days this week. He fears that the floodwaters could be creeping above his crawlspace and could cause more damage.

He told a reporter in a text message: "Very disheartening but we will make it through it."

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