Five dead in Carolinas as Florence brings ‘epic’ floods

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A downed tree and water from the Neuse river are seen on a flooded street during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, US, September 14, 2018. (Reuters)
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People move a wood and metal structure off a roadway after winds from Hurricane Florence blew it off a sales lot in Florence, SC, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP)
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A vehicle makes its way on US Highway 17 South during Hurricane Florence in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, September 14, 2018. (Reuters)
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Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents and their pets from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence September 14, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina. (AFP)
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A fallen tree lies atop the crushed roof of a fast food restaurant after the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina, September 14, 2018. (Reuters)
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Leaves, branches and other debris surround and cover a car during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, US on September 14, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 15 September 2018
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Five dead in Carolinas as Florence brings ‘epic’ floods

  • Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore
  • More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds collapsed part of the roof

WILMINGTON, N.C.: Florence barreled into the Carolina coast and moved inland on Friday, knocking down trees, overflowing rivers, dumping sheets of rain and leading to the death of five people before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc.
A mother and her baby died when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina. The child’s injured father was taken to a hospital. In the state’s Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.
Two people died in Lenoir County. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords while another man perished when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.
“We knew this was going to be a big storm, but it is going to be of epic proportions,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference in Raleigh.
Cooper cited a National Weather Service forecast that said nearly the entire state could be covered in several feet of water.
Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned that life-threatening storm surges — in which water is pushed by a storm over land that would normally be dry — and catastrophic freshwater flooding were still expected.
The center of the hurricane’s eye came ashore at about 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT) near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
By Friday evening, the center of the storm had moved to eastern South Carolina, about 15 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

NEW BERN OVERWHELMED
In New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge “overwhelmed” the town, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said.
Officials in the town of 30,000, which dates to the early 18th century, said over 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon. Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.
“These are folks who decided to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation,” city public information officer Colleen Roberts said. “These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they’re seeing the floodwaters rise.”
New Bern resident Dan Eudy said he and his brother were awakened on Thursday night by the sound of a boat ramming against his front porch. They ventured out in life jackets into the waste-deep water to tie the boat and another floating by to a tree.
Eudy and his family stayed home in New Bern in part to protect their house. “And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was,” he said. “This is a 500- or 1,000-year event.”
Eudy’s family has lived in New Bern since the 1850s, he said. His mom remembers Hurricane Hazel, when the water did not rise as high as his fifth step, where it was Thursday night.

30 INCHES OF RAIN
Parts of North and South Carolina were forecast to get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 meter).
More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds collapsed part of the roof. Many of the evacuees took their pets.
Atlantic Beach, located on the state’s Outer Banks barrier islands, had received 30 inches (76 cm) of rain, the US Geological Survey said.
The White House said on Friday President Donald Trump had spoken with state and local officials, assuring them the federal government was prepared to help. Trump planned a visit to the region next week.
Nearly 900,000 homes and businesses were without power in the Carolinas early on Friday, utility officials said. Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.
The storm was expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said. Significant weakening was expected over the weekend.
About 10 million people could be affected by the storm.
Florence was one of two major storms threatening millions of people on opposite sides of the world. Super Typhoon Mangkhut was expected to hit an area in the Philippines on Saturday that would affect 5.2 million people.


Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

Handout photo released by the Mexican presidency showing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador answering questions during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 3 min 57 sec ago
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Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

  • “The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement

MEXICO CITY: The 500-year-old wounds of the Spanish conquest were ripped open afresh on Monday when Mexico’s president urged Spain and the Vatican to apologize for their “abuses” — a request Madrid said it “firmly rejects.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist, reopened the debate over Spain’s centuries of dominance in the New World with a video posted to social media, urging Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis to apologize for the conquest and the rights violations committed in its aftermath.
“I have sent a letter to the king of Spain and another to the pope calling for a full account of the abuses and urging them to apologize to the indigenous peoples (of Mexico) for the violations of what we now call their human rights,” Lopez Obrador, 65, said in the video, filmed at the ruins of the indigenous city of Comalcalco.
“There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the (indigenous) temples,” he said.
“The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first.”
Spain’s reaction was swift and unequivocal.
“The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement.
“The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations,” it said.
“Our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective, as free peoples with a shared history and extraordinary influence.”

Lopez Obrador took office in December after a landslide election win that represented a firm break with Mexico’s traditional political parties.
A folksy populist, he pulls no punches in going after traditional elites — but had so far cultivated cordial relations with Spain, including during a visit to Mexico City by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this year.
Lopez Obrador made the remarks during a visit to his native Tabasco state, in southern Mexico.
He was later due to visit the nearby city of Centla. On March 14, 1519, the site was the scene of one of the first battles between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous peoples of the land now known as Mexico.
With the help of horses, swords, guns and smallpox — all unknown in the New World at the time — Cortes led an army of less than 1,000 men to defeat the Aztec empire, the start of 300 years of Spanish rule over Mexico.