Virginia, Sept 15 (UNB) – Weather forecasters warn of the risk of life-threatening flash flooding in parts of North and South Carolina, and Virginia, from storm Florence, reports BBC.
It has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm but continues to soak the East Coast area with rain, downing trees and damaging homes.
It is slowly grinding over the eastern states, with winds of 65mph (105km/h).
Five deaths have been linked to the storm and thousands of people have been staying in emergency shelters.
Evacuation warnings were issued for 1.7 million people in the region.
All five deaths linked to the storm are in North Carolina:
A mother and her infant were killed in Wilmington when a tree fell on their home on Friday. Officials say the child's father was also transported to hospital for injuries.
Two men in their 70s were killed in Lenoir County. One was killed when connecting an electrical generator, and family members say another man was killed in a wind-related death when checking on dogs outside his property.
A woman died from cardiac arrest in the town of Hampstead after emergency responders had their route to her blocked by downed trees, a county official said.
Kabul, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — An Afghan official says at least four army personnel, all crew members of a military helicopter, have been killed when their aircraft crashed and caught fire in western Farah province.
Mohammad Naser Mehri, the provincial governor's spokesman, says two pilots and two sharpshooters died late Friday night when their chopper caught fire after an emergency landing in Khaki Safad district.
Mehri says the hard landing was caused by a technical problem but soon the chopper caught fire as it was loaded with ammunition.
He says he doesn't believe the incident was caused by enemy fire although an investigation is continuing.
The Taliban are in control of most areas in Farah province, especially Khaki Safad district.
Anchorage, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — Authorities have arrested a 41-year-old man in connection with the disappearance of a 10-year-old girl whose body was discovered near her hometown.
FBI spokeswoman Staci Pellessier says in an email that 41-year-old Peter Wilson of Kotzebue is facing charges of making false statements to a federal agent investigating the death of Ashley Johnson-Barr of Kotzbue. Pellessier says Wilson is being transferred to Anchorage.
Alaska State Troopers say Ashley Johnson-Barr's remains were found east of Kotzebue.
The girl was last seen playing with friends at a local park Sept. 6. Her cellphone was later found a half mile from Rainbow Park, in the opposite direction of her home in the community of 3,100 people.
The search included assistance from 17 FBI agents earlier this week.
North Carolina, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) – As Tropical Storm Florence spins inland, environmental regulators are monitoring more than three dozen toxic waste sites in the storm's path, as well as scores of low-lying water- and sewage-treatment plants at risk of flooding.
The Environmental Protection Agency has identified 41 Superfund sites in threatened parts of the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland and Georgia, including polluted industrial sites, chemical plants, coastal shipyards and military bases.
EPA spokesman John Konkus said the agency is listening for any word of oil or hazardous substance spills from first responders, media reports and state and local emergency command posts. He said federal on-scene coordinators and equipment stand ready to deploy if needed.
Superfund sites are among the nation's most highly polluted places. They often contain contaminated soil and toxic waste at risk of spreading if covered by floodwaters. More than a dozen Superfund sites in the Houston metro area were flooded last year during Hurricane Harvey, with breaches of potentially harmful materials reported at two.
Though it was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane at landfall Friday and later weakened to a tropical storm, Florence remains a massive storm that will dump trillions of gallons of rain on eastern North Carolina before sweeping across South Carolina.
No toxic spills had been reported as of Friday afternoon, but the region's rivers were not expected to crest for days. Forecasters predicted severe flooding for parts of southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina starting Sunday.
The worst natural disaster in North Carolina history was Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which dumped nearly 2 feet (60 centimeters) of rain and flooded a broad swath of the coastal plain, swamping whole towns and dozens of hog farm lagoons containing millions of gallons (liters) of untreated urine and feces.
Florence, a slow-moving system that forecasters say could release more than 3 feet (90 centimeters) of rain in places, could end up being even worse.
Environmental groups said Friday that they were worried that scores of hog lagoons will burst again or be overtopped by flooding, spilling their contents into rivers used as sources of drinking water. Also of concern were more than three dozen coal ash dumps at power plants in the region. The gray ash that remains after coal is burned contains potentially harmful amounts of mercury, arsenic and lead.
Among the Superfund sites most at risk from Florence is Horton Iron and Metal, a former shipbreaking operation and fertilizer manufacturing site in a low-lying floodplain along the Cape Fear River outside Wilmington, North Carolina. The 7.4-acre (3-hectare) site is heavily contaminated with pesticides, asbestos, toxic metals and cancer-causing PCBs.
Upriver along the Cape Fear is Carolina Transformer Co., a 5-acre (2-hectare) Superfund site in Fayetteville that also contains contaminated soil and groundwater contaminated with PCBs.
Forecasts call for the river to crest Monday at Fayetteville at more than 62 feet (19 meters) — nearly 30 feet (9 meters) above flood stage.
In Elizabeth City, the Triangle Pacific Corp. site includes a World War II-era Navy blimp base along the Pasquotank River that was later purchased by a company that manufactured wooden cabinetry. The site is contaminated with toluene, acetone, cadmium and arsenic.
Also of concern is the sprawling Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia and Marine Corps bases at Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point in North Carolina and at Parris Island in South Carolina.
The shipyard near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay dates to 1767 and contains contaminated soil and groundwater from more than two centuries' worth of dumped hazardous chemicals. Hazards at the Marine bases include ground saturated with toxic chemicals, old paint, ash from old trash burn pits and unexploded ordnance.
Nationwide, there are 327 Superfund sites in areas prone to flooding or vulnerable to sea-level rise caused by climate change, according to an Associated Press analysis of flood-zone maps, census data and EPA records. Nearly 2 million Americans live within a mile of the most at-risk sites.
Mexico City, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — Police in the northern Mexico state of Sonora say six severed human heads have been found in a plastic cooler on a roadside.
A Sonora official who was not authorized to be quoted by name says the grisly artifact was reported to an emergency number.
There was no immediate information on the identity of the men, nor were their bodies immediately found.
The heads were discovered Friday near the city of Ciudad Obregon.
Drug gangs often leave severed heads as a warning to rivals or authorities.
Until now, Sonora has not seen as much drug violence as other northern states.