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North Carolina officer rams dog into car, launches investigation

A North Carolina Police Department ordered an investigation into a video that appeared to show an officer lifting a police dog off the ground by its leash during a training exercise and slamming it into the side of a patrol car.

Salisbury Police Department Chief Jerry Stokes declined to comment in detail on the episode at a press conference on Tuesday, saying it was “an ongoing personnel matter”. He said the dog had been separated from the officer shown in the video and an investigation was underway.

The 4-year-old German Shepherd, whose name is Zuul, was present at the press conference. “You can see it here today,” said Chief Stokes. “He is in good health and well and will be in normal service in the near future.”

“The dog was not injured and is healthy and well cared for,” he said.

Chief Stokes did not respond to questions from reporters.

The video, which is almost a minute long, was posted by WJZY-TV of Charlotte, NC. The station said it was submitted by an anonymous source.

It was not clear when the video was recorded. The chief did not disclose the name of the agent shown in the video or how the ministry learned of the episode.

City spokeswoman Linda McElroy said Thursday she could not comment further as it was a personnel matter, citing North Carolina law.

In the video, an officer can be seen exiting a police SUV as a helicopter hums above his head, leaving the back door of the car open. The police dog jumps out of the vehicle and tries to follow the policeman, but immediately lies down when the policeman yells at him.

The officer then walks over to the dog and puts him on a leash. He then uses the leash to lift him off the ground and pass him onto his back before heading for the car.

“We’re good, no witnesses,” said a voiceover.

The officer slams the dog against the side of the vehicle – a thud is heard – before pushing it inside. He shouts “Stay!” before raising your hand and hitting the dog.

“Is your camera on?” asks for a second voiceover.

“Ah, no, my power is off,” says the person who appears to be recording.

Chief Stokes told the press conference that the dogs in the department are trained for use against criminal suspects and that officers must have full control over the dogs at all times.

“When a dog does not comply with the handler’s commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog,” he says. “Dog training tactics and corrective action can be alarming at times out of context. SPD cannot and will not say if the training tactics used in the video were appropriate as they are still under review. “

Salisbury is approximately 45 miles northeast of Charlotte. The police department has five dogs and five handlers, Ms. McElroy said.

Chief Stokes said the investigation would include former police dog handlers from other departments, an owner of a police dog training company and K-9 supervisory staff from the Salisbury Department.

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North Carolina Republicans censor Richard Burr for impeachment vote

The North Carolina Republican Party voted unanimously on Monday to censor Senator Richard M. Burr for voting to convict former President Donald J. Trump in his second impeachment trial.

The reprimand was the latest fallout for the seven Republicans who sided with the Democrats in an unsuccessful effort to convict Mr. Trump of inciting an insurgency on January 6, when a crowd of Trump supporters went wild. in the Capitol.

The vote for Mr Burr, 65, who will retire after three Senate terms, came as a surprise after he voted earlier against continuing the impeachment trial over a Republican challenge that the Senate had failed no jurisdiction to judge a former president. .

The North Carolina Republican Party said in a statement Monday that the decision to censor Mr. Burr was made by its central committee.

The party “agrees with the strong majority of Republicans in the US House of Representatives and Senate that the Democrat-led attempt to impeach a former president is outside the US Constitution. », Indicates the press release.

Mr Burr issued a brief statement in response saying it was a “really sad day” for Republicans in his state.

“The leaders of my party chose loyalty to one man over the fundamentals of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation,” he said.

Mr Trump was acquitted on Saturday by a vote of 57 guilty to 43 not guilty who did not meet the two-thirds threshold for conviction. The result was no surprise as only six Republicans had joined with Democrats in clearing the way for the case to be heard by narrowly dismissing a constitutional objection.

Of the seven Republican senators who voted to convict, Mr Burr is not the only one to be reprimanded. The Louisiana Republican Party, for example, said after the impeachment vote it was “deeply disappointed” by the guilty vote of its home Senator Bill Cassidy.

Of the seven, only Mr. Burr and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is also retiring, will no longer face voters. Mr. Toomey has been berated by several county-level Republican officials in his state in recent days.

Neither senator particularly criticized Mr. Trump while in office.

In 2019, Mr. Burr, then chairman of the Intelligence Committee, subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony as part of his work leading the only bipartisan congressional investigation into Russian election interference. The former president’s son responded by launching a political war against Mr Burr, putting him and the Intelligence Commission on their heels.

On the day of the vote in the impeachment trial, Mr Burr set out the reasons for his guilty vote, saying that the president “bears responsibility” for the events of January 6.

“The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of instigating an insurgency against a branch of the same government and that the charge rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said. “Therefore, I voted to condemn.”

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley issued a statement the same day calling Mr Burr’s vote a condemnation “contradictory.”

“The Republicans of North Carolina sent Senator Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution and his vote today to convict in a lawsuit he said unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing,” Mr. Whatley.

Mr Burr’s impeachment vote has fueled speculation that Mr Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump will seek the seat of the North Carolina Senate that Mr Burr will leave after the 2022 election. Ms Trump, who is married to Eric Trump, grew up in the state, and launched out as a possible successor to Burr for months.

Ms Trump, 38, is a former personal trainer and television producer who grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina.A senior Republican official with knowledge of her plans said if the January 6 riot had soured Ms Trump’s desire to run for a position, she would. decide over the next few months to run as part of a coordinated Trump family return.

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Lara Trump for the seat of the North Carolina Senate? Trump trial renews speech

Another Republican, former Rep. Mark Walker, a Trump ally, has already announced his candidacy, and Pat McCrory, a former Republican governor, is considering one. Mark Meadows, former North Carolina representative and former Trump chief of staff, would also be in the mix.

“We’re going to take a very long look at all of the candidates in relation to, you know, some sort of crowning achievement,” said Mark Brody, a member of the Union County Republican National Committee outside of Charlotte.

Doug Heye, a former Republican National Committee spokesperson who worked for Mr. Burr, wondered if Ms. Trump was ready to endure the brawl and boredom of running or serving. “A lot of people like speculation and attention, but being a senator takes a lot of work,” he said.

But first there is the question of his residence. Ms Trump currently lives with her husband, Eric, and their children in suburban New York City and is expected to move.

Then there is the less simple question of branding. The Trump last name is a wild card – it will be a plus for loyalists and nationwide fundraising, but it could be a handicap in a battlefield the former president won by just 1.3 percentage point in 2020. There is also a possibility Ms. Trump’s candidacy could help increase Democratic participation, especially among the state’s sizable black population.

Or it could be a wash.

“There is a myth that Trump voters will run for Trump’s candidates or their family members,” said John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster and campaigning veteran in the South. “The cult members only come out in force for the cult leader.”

Whether or not Ms. Trump’s candidacy might come up is creating a buzz is, in itself, a reflection of the party’s concern about her future.

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North Carolina Drops Confederate Flag License Plates

The state of North Carolina is no longer issuing license plates bearing the Confederate flag, the National Motor Vehicle Agency said on Monday, the latest turning point in a national assessment of the Old South symbols and their meaning.

In a statement on Monday, the Motor Vehicle Division said the special plates could send the wrong message and the state removed them as of January 1.

North Carolina was one of several southern states to offer the plates with the Confederate battle flag to members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans group.

The state said it would continue to recognize the sons of Confederate veterans as a civic organization, which entitles the group to a specialty plaque. But the state said that does not give the group the right to dictate the content of the government’s speech on this plate.

“The Motor Vehicle Division has determined that license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag have the potential to offend those who see them,” the agency said. “We have therefore concluded that the display of the Confederate battle flag is not appropriate for display on special license plates, which remain the property of the state.”

The change came into effect at a time when other states are tackling the problem as well. Last year, Mississippi replaced its flag, a flag that prominently featured the Confederate symbol – an image adopted by white supremacist groups. The new flag features a magnolia tree.

The move of transportation officials to North Carolina came just days before the Jan.6 siege on the U.S. Capitol, where a man carried a Confederate battle flag through the halls of Congress.

Larry McCluney Jr., the commander-in-chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said in an interview Monday evening that the license plates were no different from those displayed by members of other civic organizations and accused those responsible of North Carolina to try to erase history.

“What we are seeing here is just an attack on American history,” said Mr. McCluney. “We live in a time when it takes just one or two people to say, ‘I’m offended by this,’ but the majority have to comply.”

Mr McCluney said the Confederate battle flag did not represent slavery and was a key part of the Southern identity shared by the 30,000 active members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He said he had one of the plates on his car in Mississippi, where he lives, and that he was “horrified” by slavery.

“It was the flag of the soldiers,” he said. “If you don’t like it, go the other way. You don’t have to watch.

North Carolina officials said efforts to develop an alternate design for the license plate were unsuccessful.

It was not immediately clear what would happen to existing plate holders when they renew their registrations, but The Wilmington StarNews reported that there were 3,015 plates with the Confederate flag as of February 1.

The newspaper, which reported the plates had been removed and had been the subject of complaints last year, said members of the organization learned of the decision when they tried to renew their registration.

It was not the first time that a state grappled with the image of the Confederate flag on license plates.

In 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state of Texas had not violated the First Amendment by rejecting a specialized Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate bearing the Confederate Battle Flag. In the 5 to 4 decision, the court said the license plates were a government speech.

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Vaccination ‘race’ after South African variant detected in South Carolina

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – South Carolina was already experiencing one of the country’s worst coronavirus outbreaks when officials learned of an alarming development this week: a new and more worrying variant of the virus, originally identified in South Africa, had been detected in the state.

Shortly after, a second case was discovered with no known link to the first, state officials said Thursday.

Neither patient had a travel history, officials said, suggesting that what many public health experts feared had happened: The new variant of the virus had taken root in the United States.

The arrival of the variant – considered highly contagious and less susceptible to vaccines – underlines the precarious progress the country has made in its fight against the virus. Even as millions of people have been vaccinated and the country slopes downward from more than 150,000 new coronavirus cases a day, new mutations in the virus threaten to undermine what little progress the country has made .

“This is a pivotal moment,” said Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology in California, who studies immunity against infectious diseases. “It’s a race with the new variants to get a lot of people vaccinated before these variants spread.”

Pat Kearns, 87, sat in her car in a crowded parking lot clinic in North Charleston on Friday, after receiving her own coronavirus vaccine amid news of the new variant’s appearance.

“This virus is much faster than us,” said Ms. Kearns, a retired radiology nurse, who said that even after receiving her two shots, she had few plans to venture out immediately. “I’ll stay where I am,” she said. “Stay safe.”

The South African variant, known as B.1.351, is one of many mutations that have emerged as the pandemic has continued. Others include a variant from Brazil, which was detected in Minnesota this week, and one from Britain, which is spreading more widely in the United States.

The variants are believed to be more contagious, and the one from South Africa is among the most concerning as preliminary research suggests vaccines may be less effective against it.

Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech – the companies making the two vaccines currently on the U.S. market – have said their vaccines are slightly less protective against the South African variant, and the companies are considering creating either a booster or a new version to avoid . the variant.

Likewise, Johnson & Johnson, the only major drugmaker developing a single-dose coronavirus vaccine, announced on Friday that its injection would offer strong protection against Covid-19 if approved, with an effectiveness rate of 72% in the United States. But it is less effective against the new variant – falling to 57% in South Africa.

Although this variant appears to partially escape the antibodies created against Covid-19, experts have said that the vaccines, on the whole, should still be effective. Research suggests that even when a vaccinated person gets sick, vaccines can help reduce the severity of Covid-19.

“Vaccines are not an all-or-nothing thing,” said Dr Crotty, who compared being vaccinated against the virus to hitting the brakes in a car accident, to the extent that even a partial braking – or the effectiveness of the vaccine – is much better than none.

But in a troubling development, the variant may also follow a less sharp pattern than the traditional version of Covid-19, which is said to have offered at least short-term immunity to people who have fallen ill. Novavax, a fourth company developing a vaccine, reported that in a small trial in South Africa, around a third of participants had already been infected with Covid-19, but the results suggested that their previous illnesses did not protect them against the new one. variant.

Even though President Biden has banned travel from South Africa from Saturday, the variant could spread significantly in the United States, potentially constituting a large portion of his infections by April.

The developments have landed with a thud in South Carolina, which is experiencing one of the nation’s worst epidemics, behind only Arizona. “The fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” South Carolina interim director of public health Dr. Brannon Traxler said at a press conference announcing the new cases. “We all need to be more vigilant.”

Vaccines against covid19>

Answers to your questions about vaccines

Currently, more than 150 million people – almost half of the population – can be vaccinated. But each state makes the final decision as to who goes first. The country’s 21 million healthcare workers and three million residents of long-term care facilities were the first to qualify. In mid-January, federal officials urged all states to open eligibility to all people 65 and older and adults of all ages with health conditions that put them at high risk of becoming seriously ill. or die from Covid-19. The adults of the general population are at the back of the pack. If federal and state health authorities can remove the bottlenecks in vaccine distribution, everyone 16 and older will become eligible as early as this spring or early summer. The vaccine has not been approved in children, although studies are ongoing. It can take months for a vaccine to be available to anyone under the age of 16. Visit your state’s website for up-to-date information on immunization policies in your area.

You shouldn’t have to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine, although you will be asked for insurance information. If you don’t have insurance, you should still get the vaccine at no cost. Congress passed a law this spring that prohibits insurers from enforcing any cost sharing, such as a copayment or deductible. It was based on additional protections prohibiting pharmacies, doctors and hospitals from billing patients, including those who are uninsured. Even so, health experts fear that patients will stumble upon loopholes that expose them to surprise bills. This could happen to those who are charged a doctor’s visit fee with their vaccine, or to Americans who have certain types of health coverage that do not fall under the new rules. If you get your vaccine from a doctor or emergency care clinic, tell them about any hidden costs. To make sure you don’t get a surprise bill, your best bet is to get vaccinated at a health service vaccination site or local pharmacy once vaccines become more widely available.

This remains to be determined. It is possible that the Covid-19 vaccination will become an annual event, just like the flu vaccine. Or it may be that the benefits of the vaccine last for more than a year. We have to wait and see how long the protection against vaccines is. To determine this, researchers will follow vaccinated people looking for “revolutionary cases” – those people who contract Covid-19 despite being vaccinated. This is a sign of weakening protection and will give researchers clues about how long the vaccine will last. They will also monitor the levels of antibodies and T cells in the blood of people who have been vaccinated to determine if and when a booster injection might be needed. It’s conceivable that people would need boosters every few months, once a year, or just every few years. It’s just a matter of waiting for the data.

Although new infections have slowed from a peak this month, South Carolina is now reporting more new cases and has more people in hospitals than at any time last year. It also reports the highest number of deaths of the entire pandemic.

It is unclear what role the new variant could play in the spread in South Carolina, where officials have warned of panic and said contact tracing did not indicate “widespread widespread transmission.”

But the new variant only increased the stakes for the state, where Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, has taken a largely hands-off approach to viral restrictions, keeping restaurants and bars open and avoiding a statewide mask order in a strategy he characterized as also good for the economy. Unemployment in South Carolina fell to 4.6%, below the national average.

But experts believe controlling the spread of the virus is critical to stopping any new variant before a potential explosion of cases leads to even more hospitalizations and deaths.

“We need to get the pandemic under control,” said Dr Krutika Kuppalli, assistant professor of medicine and infectious disease physician at the University of Medicine of South Carolina, who often leaves a shift to treat Covid patients. 19 at the hospital only to see bars crowded with people on the way home.

“I don’t want to be here next year to talk about an even tougher virus,” she said, adding: “We have to find a renewed resolution to come together and reach the finish line.”

At Roper St. Francis Healthcare, which has four hospitals in the southeastern part of the state, 17% of beds were filled with Covid-19 patients on Friday, and others were getting off at a drive-thru clinic run by the hospital system. . Dozens of people lined up in cars on a blustery Friday morning to receive the first of two Pfizer vaccines, filling a large parking lot at the North Charleston Performing Arts and Convention Center.

“The demand was not there,” said James Bowron, Roper St. Francis operations manager. “We are inundated with requests.”

Charles Bauman, 75, was relieved to get the shot on Friday, but said he had no plans to change his routine. “We still have to wear our masks and wash our hands,” he said. “It’s going to be like that for a while.”

As a sign of the country’s difficult progress, many people who call now for an appointment in South Carolina may have to wait weeks to get their shots. At the North Charleston clinic, appointments are not available until mid-March, when new variants of the virus are expected to be much more prevalent.

Chris Dixon reported from North Charleston, and Sarah Mervosh from New York.

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For the impeachment trial, Trump chooses a South Carolina lawyer arranged by Lindsey Graham.

Former President Donald J. Trump’s new impeachment lawyer Butch Bowers is a South Carolina-based attorney who was arranged by Senator Lindsey Graham and has a long history of representing politicians in his home state .

Mr. Bowers will lead Mr. Trump’s defense in the possible trial for his second indictment, Mr. Graham and Jason Miller, an adviser to Mr. Trump, have confirmed.

The search capped weeks of a frantic search for a lawyer willing to represent Mr. Trump in the wake of the January 6 riot by his supporters on Capitol Hill. Lawyers for the former president in the first impeachment trial had made it clear that they did not want to be part of the impending trial. And despite the desire for the involvement of Mr. Trump’s longtime friend and personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former president has made it clear that he will not be.

Mr. Bowers is well known in the insular South Carolina political world, where he represented two former governors, Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley.

Mr Graham announced on a Republican Senate conference call that Mr Bowers would represent the president in the trial and had been detained on Wednesday night, a person on the call confirmed. Mr. Graham’s announcement was first reported by Punchbowl News.

Mr. Bowers and Mr. Graham did not respond to requests for comment.

South Carolina agents have generally said Mr Bowers would be a good candidate for president and that he has a profile that would be useful with some of the senators.

“He’s not a MAGA Republican, so this will help establishment Republicans,” said Bakari Sellers, a South Carolina-based Democratic strategist.

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Biden to choose North Carolina environmental regulator Michael Regan to head EPA

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will appoint Michael S. Regan, secretary of the North Carolina Department for Environmental Quality, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, according to three people from the ‘Biden transition team.

Mr Regan only became Mr Biden’s first choice in recent days, said two people familiar with the selection process. The first was for several weeks Mary D. Nichols, California’s air quality regulator, but she faced significant criticism from liberal groups who accused her of not doing enough to solve the problems of environmental racism in his state.

Mr Biden has also come under pressure to make his cabinet choices more racially diverse. If confirmed, Regan is expected to place a strong emphasis on racial equity at the agency.

“This signals that the Biden administration is serious in bringing the EPA back to its core mission of protecting the environment and public health, as well as ensuring that strong and meaningful action is taken to move the issues forward.” environmental justice, ”said Brian Buzby, executive director of the North Carolina Conservation Network, a coalition of environmental groups.

Mr Biden has pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and, along the way, to eliminate fossil fuel emissions from the power sector by 2035. If the Senate remains under Republican control and resists passage of climate legislation, much of it will be up to the EPA to enact regulations that can reduce global warming pollution from power plants, automobiles, and oil and gas sites .

A longtime EPA air quality specialist working under both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, Mr. Regan later worked for the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit advocacy group. In 2017 Roy Cooper, a Democrat, defeated Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, in North Carolina and hired Mr. Regan to head the state’s environmental agency.

There he replaced Donald R. van der Vaart, a Trump administration ally who challenged established science of climate change and fought Obama-era rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and championed a business-friendly deregulation program in North Carolina.

Mr Regan’s supporters said he had improved morale in the troops and emphasized the role of science in the ministry. Several called it a clear parallel to what it would be supposed to do at the EPA where Andrew Wheeler, President Trump’s administrator and former coal lobbyist, discouraged the agency from working on climate change, and independent auditors. have identified a “culture at the top” of political interference in science.

“It’s strange how this mirrored what happened to the EPA,” said Dan Crawford, director of government relations at the Conservation Voters League of North Carolina, who called it “refreshing.” choice of Mr. Regan to lead the federal agency.

Mr van der Vaart in an interview called Mr Regan a “nice boy”, but said the Environment Quality Ministry under his leadership made bad decisions, including in a deal with Duke Energy on cleaning up coal ash, which he said could lead to price increases for customers.

He rebuffed the idea that morale had taken a hit under his leadership. Regarding climate change policy, Mr van der Vaart said, under Mr Regan’s leadership, ‘very little has been done anyway, so I’m not sure where it is. precisely located the improvement on this issue.

Mr. Regan’s selection is in many ways a conventional choice. Democratic presidents have a history of poaching EPA leaders from state environmental agencies. Gina McCarthy and Lisa Jackson, who both ran the agency under President Obama, had served as heads of state environmental agencies; Ms. McCarthy in Massachusetts and Ms. Jackson in New Jersey.

But Mr Regan’s name only appeared on Sunday after weeks of speculation Ms Nichols from California had a lock on the job.

Ms Nichols, a champion of aggressive regulation, would have faced fierce opposition from Republicans, something Biden’s team was prepared for. But, said several people close to the transition, Mr Biden was caught off guard by the intense criticism of Ms Nichols from the Liberals who argued that the cap-and-trade policies she had helped designing for California allowed industry to continue to pollute, causing disproportionate harm. poor communities.

In Mr Regan, said those close to the transition Biden, the president-elect hopes to find a candidate who hasn’t made many enemies left or right and who can also act quickly to chart an aggressive agenda.

He played a key role in helping Governor Cooper deliver on his pledge to achieve carbon neutrality in North Carolina by 2050, and oversees the state’s Interagency Council on Climate Change, a task force of state agencies set up to achieve this goal. In September, Regan presented a plan that called for cutting emissions from the electricity sector to 70 percent below 2005 levels over the next decade and dramatically accelerating clean energy development.

And, in January, Mr Regan’s agency struck a sweeping settlement deal with Duke Energy and environmental groups to require the utility to dispose of more than 76 million tonnes of coal ash submerged in lined landfills. . It will be the largest coal ash excavation in the country.

Coral Davenport contribution to reports.

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Words of gratitude from North Carolina

In this season of collective uncertainty and heaviness, North Carolinians are proud of the many ways we have come together to care for one another. From state and local governments to essential health workers; there are innovative community farms, front yard potlucks that feed thousands over a weekend, and virtual arts, culture and politics programs that remind us to remember who we really are. as kind, generous and humble people who thrive close to the earth and hold family close.

In the face of this huge health pandemic, community activists and nonprofits in North Carolina continue the monumental task of combating racism, classism, gender phobia, sexism, ageism and xenophobia. We are grateful for those movements that encourage and facilitate dialogue around racial justice and anti-racism amid not-so-hidden racial agendas fueled by white supremacist groups who deliberately seek to incite violence.

North Carolinians take pride in our strengths and vulnerabilities that require us to reinvent possibilities, visions and commitment to create more compassionate communities for our children. Every day we create safe spaces and corridors of generosity where we can continue to thrive alone, but together, with trust. “Tenderness towards the unknown is tenderness towards oneself.”

Jaki Shelton Green, Poet Laureate from North Carolina

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Video: Flash floods cause death and severe damage in North Carolina

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Flash floods cause death and severe damage in North Carolina

At least six people have died, and two more were missing, after flash floods swept across North Carolina on Thursday.

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Recent episodes of Extreme weather conditions

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At least 7 killed as flash floods devastate North Carolina

At least seven people were killed and two more were missing Thursday in North Carolina as flash flood waters washed away roads and bridges, authorities said.

The state was heavily affected by the same weather system as Tropical Storm Eta, with some areas receiving around 10 inches of rain.

One of the hardest hit areas was Alexander County, about an hour north of Charlotte, where emergency responders said they found the bodies of three people and evacuated 31 others from a campground .

At 4 p.m., an adult and a child were still missing from the Hiddenite family campground, authorities said, who reported that a fourth person in Alexander County was killed in a car when the waters flooded. floods destroyed a bridge.

“It’s tough on lifeguards, especially when you have to break the news to the family,” Chris Bowman, the county sheriff, said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Alexander County was one of five counties in North Carolina that declared a state of emergencyy Thursday, according to Steve Powers, the state’s deputy director of emergency management. The others were Burke, Catawba, Iredell and Yadkin.

At least four bridges and 50 roads in Alexander County were violated by flood waters, authorities said. Amber Roberts, television reporter for Fox 46 Charlotte, was on air when one of the bridges collapsed in front of her. A video of the journalist’s close call drew widespread attention on social media.

“It’s unbelievably -” Mrs. Roberts said, shouting as the bridge gave way, “scary. OK, we’re backing up. We’re backing up. So thank God we are backing up.

The other two deaths in the state were in Iredell County, which is also north of Charlotte and borders Alexander County.

At 5:45 a.m., the driver and passenger of a Ford Ranger pickup truck were killed when their vehicle hydroplaned on Route 115 (the Wilkesboro Highway), crossed the center line and collided with an oncoming Jeep Wrangler, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said. Officials said the van was traveling too fast for the conditions and the two men were not wearing seat belts.

According to a meteorologist from the National Hurricane Center, the flooding was the result of a cold front in the region mixed with “deep tropical humidity” in the wake of Tropical Storm Eta, which hit both coasts of Florida for days. as she moved north.

“This is a direct association with Eta,” said meteorologist Dennis Feltgen of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The cold front “would normally trigger rain,” Feltgen said. “We’re all used to it. But sadly, Eta is in the position where all of this deep tropical “storm” moisture is swept past the front and through the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia. “

In Charlotte, rescuers evacuated 143 students from Charlotte Corvian Community School after floodwaters submerged the building on Thursday, the Charlotte Fire Department said on Twitter. There were no injuries.

In another part of town, a man on a bicycle with his wife spotted a man trapped by rising waters, before firefighters came to the rescue.

“He was up to his neck, clinging to a tree,” the witness told Fox 46. “So we realized he was in trouble and I called 911.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Eta was about 115 miles southwest of Charleston, SC, though its impact reached far beyond.

“Remember, this is not a point on a map,” Feltgen said. “These are big storms with impacts over a large area. Eta is a classic example. “

When Eta passed over the Florida Keys late Sunday, Mr Feltgen, who lives 175 miles north in Broward County, said he had personally seen the impact of the storm.

“I had 18 inches of rain” and “I never saw my neighborhood flooded,” he said. “It was a first.”