Florence Latest: 2 Public Schools Now Uninhabitable, UNC Wilmington Resuming Classes Next Week

Sep 25, 2018

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on flooding caused by former Hurricane Florence (all times local):

4 p.m.

A North Carolina school superintendent says two of the six schools in his system will have to be demolished because of water damage caused by Hurricane Florence.

Jones County School Superintendent Michael Bracy said Jones Middle and Trenton Elementary schools received at least 3 feet (0.9 meters) of water in portions of the respective buildings. Bracy said by the time workers could get into the schools, mold and mildew had already formed.

Bracy says the system is building a brand new K-12 school for those students, scheduled to open in August 2019. In the meantime, efforts are underway to relocate them temporarily to other schools that weren't affected by Florence.

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4 p.m.

A North Carolina university closed because of Hurricane Florence is about to resume its fall semester.

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington announced in an email sent to students that classes will resume on Oct. 1 for the majority of its students. The school said most students may move back into their dormitories beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. Officials said there will be no access to the dorms before then.

The school added that ongoing work in two dorms will keep those buildings closed to students until Oct. 6. Faculty members are being encouraged in the meantime to make virtual participation available for students unable to attend classes in person.

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4 p.m.

The head of a national effort to fight income and racial inequality says North Carolina politicians should help those harmed the most by Hurricane Florence by increasing Medicaid coverage and the minimum wage.

The Rev. William Barber of the Poor People's Campaign lives in North Carolina. He and other state social justice advocates held a news conference Tuesday outside the old Capitol building in Raleigh.

Barber read a letter urging Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislators during next week's special session for Florence relief to expand Medicaid to cover 500,000 more people. He also seeks more affordable housing.

Barber said the poor and uninsured people already were struggling before Florence, and will be worse off afterward.

Cooper has already backed Medicaid expansion and raising the current $7.25 minimum wage. But it's unlikely the GOP-controlled legislature will approve Barber's requests.

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2:10 p.m.

A National Weather Service meteorologist says a low-pressure area located off the coast of the Carolinas is likely to bring showers but won't significantly increase flooding threats to areas already saturated by Hurricane Florence.

Reid Hawkins is science and operations officer for the Wilmington National Weather Service office. He said in a phone interview Tuesday that the low-pressure area off the coast is expected to run into a front that will push it north. He says the system isn't expected to become anything worse than a tropical depression.

Hawkins says coastal areas around Wilmington could get some rain, but it's not expected to greatly increase any flooding and "shouldn't put much of a dent in the rivers."

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2:10 p.m.

The U.S. Marine Corps is reporting that wastewater overflowed from a North Carolina base into a river in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

A news release said the spill was discovered on Monday afternoon. The Corps said about 84,000 gallons (318,000 liters) of wastewater spilled into a low-lying area at Camp Lejeune and that about 42,000 gallons (159,000 Liters) overflowed from the low-lying area and went into the New River through a storm ditch.

The news release said the spill was caused by a power-outage at a wastewater lift station during the storm and a high volume of rainfall causing an overflow of the low-lying area.

Workers removed the remaining wastewater on the base and disinfected the area. The news release said that base officials have confirmed the spill doesn't threaten its residential water supply.

State environmental officials are also working with the base to take further water samples.

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2:10 p.m.

A bipartisan group of current and former North Carolina education leaders is asking for donations to help speed recovery for school districts harmed by Hurricane Florence.

State schools superintendent Mark Johnson and predecessors June Atkinson and Mike Ward joined others Tuesday in Raleigh to announce the Florence Aid to Students and Teachers program. Their push comes as the legislature prepares for a special session next week to begin distributing disaster-relief funding.

The past and present leaders say they're seeking donations for schools in need. Money will be distributed to districts through a special state education fund already in existence.

Many schools in districts affected by the storm remain closed. There is no official number, but Department of Public Instruction spokesman Drew Elliot says up to 1.2 million of more than 1.5 million public school students in the state missed some amount of school because of the disaster.

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12:20 p.m.

Red Cross officials say that residents displaced by Hurricane Florence could face difficulty finding temporary housing because of storm damage and an already-tight rental housing market.

Red Cross Vice President of Operations and Logistics Brad Kieserman said that North Carolina's rental market was already tight before the storm. He said that much of the rental market in rural North Carolina was in homes and one-story structures that were susceptible to flooding damage.

He said that FEMA data indicates that tens of thousands of structures have been damaged by the storm.

He said that Red Cross shelters in North Carolina have about 1,700 people in them on Tuesday, down from a peak of 22,000. He said the number is in sync with state data because the Red Cross is operating virtually all shelters in the state now. He said about 200 people are in Red Cross-run shelters in South Carolina.