Entries in North Carolina (94)


Citing Budget Woes, N.C. Town's Police to Cut Back on 911 Responses

Thinkstock/Getty Images(SMITHFIELD, N.C.) -- The police department in Smithfield, N.C., has said it would no longer respond to all 911 calls and would stop pursuing some misdemeanor crimes if the town didn’t approve a measure to increase the department’s budget for gasoline, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

Police Chief Michael Scott will ask the town council to allow him to reallocate some of his $30,000 office supply and equipment repair funds to compensate for the shortfall in the gas budget. Smithfield reportedly cut the fuel budget by 14 percent — or by about $10,000 — from the previous fiscal year, according to the paper. Without an increase, the department runs out of gas by February 2012.

Scott said the department already had to cut back on patrols — and has even halved the number of patrol cars on the roads at times.

The town recently experienced a series of crimes – an armed robbery of a convenience store, a theft of tires and rims from an auto shop — that Scott said could have been prevented by heavier patrolling.

He also said that the department had been fielding complaints about the lowered police presence, and that some callers had even asked if they should buy guns to protect themselves.

City council members reportedly asked Scott to study alternatives to his plan to shift funds from one part of the budget to another. The alternatives that the police chief plans to present Tuesday are unprecedented. According to the News & Observer, department officials said that detectives would be asked to investigate only felony crimes and would be forced to drop misdemeanor investigations for now.

The plan also means that 911 calls made from hotels and pay phones would be ignored when they were followed by hang-ups, “as a very high percentage of these calls are errors in dialing.” Police would also stop responding to burglar alarms, because of the high number of false alerts. Patrolling would also stop on the southern and western sections of town, according to the paper, because these are not areas of violent crime.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Blackbeard's Cannon Lifted from Ocean Floor off North Carolina

Karen Browning/N.C. Department of Cultural Resources(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Archaeologists lifted a 300-year-old cannon from the pirate Blackbeard's ship off the coast of North Carolina Wednesday.

The eight-foot-long cannon was covered in sand and ocean debris called "concretion," which will take archaeologists and students at East Carolina University as many as eight years to crack through before getting to the metal cannon, according to Jennifer Woodward, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, which oversees the project.

"It was perfect.  It's a beautiful day, the crews were out earlier this morning, several boats out there witnessed it," Woodward said.  "It looks like it's covered in concretions, with cement all around it, and there will be lots of things attached to it."

Woodward said that in past recoveries of cannons from the ship, bits of rope, lead shot and gold dust had been found encased with the recovered artifact.  Researchers have also found wine glass stems and a leg shackle, likely used in the slave trade, she said.  Twelve cannons have been lifted from the ship so far.

Blackbeard, whose real name was Edward Teach, was the captain of the Queen Anne's Revenge, a captured French slave ship.  In 1717, he successfully blockaded the harbor in Charleston, S.C., where he demanded money and goods from the townspeople for weeks.

He used Ocracoke on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as his base of operations.  It was there that he met his end in 1718.

Lauren Hermley, a researcher with the group, said that Blackbeard likely grounded the ship on purpose before it sank, giving the pirate and his crew time to take off the big ticket items -- treasure troves of silver, for example.

He was rumored to have a treasure hidden somewhere, but if he did, the secret died with him.  The artifacts that remain are jackpots only to archaeologists and history buffs.

Hermley noted that the recovery of artifacts has been going on since 1997, and is expected to last until 2013.  Artifacts from the ship are on display in North Carolina museums and museums around the country.  It is the largest underwater archeological project in the country, she noted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Northern Lights Seen Across Southeast US

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(WASHINGTON) -- Red and pink streaks filled the sky across parts of the country after Earth’s magnetic field was hit by a coronal mass ejection, enabling the Northern Lights to be seen across the southeastern part of the United States.

The ejection hit on Monday at approximately 2 p.m. ET and was seen across Arkansas, Tennessee, northern Alabama, northern Mississippi and North Carolina.

The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, occurs when energy particles from the sun interact with the earth’s magnetic field.  Though the particles were emitted from the sun on Saturday, they only hit earth’s atmosphere Monday night.

The National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center said the coronal mass ejection arrived approximately eight hours earlier than model guidance suggested.

Geir Øye, a veteran observer of the Northern Lights from Norway, told that this particular aurora was very powerful.

“These are the strongest and most beautiful auroras I’ve ever seen,” Øye said.  “I can only imagine what the display must have been further north.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cape Fear High School Shooting: Two Teens in Custody

Comstock/Thinkstock(CAPE FEAR, N.C.) -- Two teens are in custody in the shooting of a 15-year-old girl Monday at a North Carolina high school, police said Monday evening.

Surveillance video helped them identify Ta'Von McLaurin, 18, and a 15-year-old whose name has not been released because of his age, Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said Monday evening at a news conference.

Charges are expected to be filed against the two once police are finished questioning them, Butler said.

Police found a .22 Daisy rifle and shell casings on the grounds of Cape Fear High School, near Fayetteville, where the shooting occured at around 1 p.m.

Caitlyn Abercrombie, 15, who was eating lunch outside the school, was shot in the neck. According to ABC affiliate station WTVD-TV in Raleigh, witnesses said they heard a popping sound and saw her fall over, but no one saw anyone with a gun.

Abercrombie was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where she underwent surgery. She was listed in stable condition Monday evening, WTVD-TV reported.

Cumberland County Superintendent Franklin Till said it was a normal, quiet lunch period when shots broke out. He said there was no suspicious activity going on before the shooting.

Cape Fear High School and nearby Mac Williams Middle School were placed on lockdown after the shooting.

Parents who gathered outside the school to wait for their children told WTVD-TV there was speculation about gang-related activity, and that an incident that occurred earlier this month might have been related to Monday's shooting.

School officials and police, however, said that gang activity was not related to the shooting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


North Carolina Schools Locked Down; Reports of Shooting Incident

Tamara Reynolds/Riser(CAPE FEAR, N.C.) -- A school shooting in Cape Fear, N.C., has left one teen injured and two schools on lockdown while police hunt for a shooter.

At least one student was shot and injured Monday outside of Cape Fear High School, near Raleigh, N.C., according to ABC News affiliate WTVD.

The girl, who is between 15 and 17 years old, was eating lunch outside a building on the school's campus just after 1 p.m. when the shooting occurred, police said. A manhunt is underway around the school for the gunman and to determine that the area is safe.

"No one has seen anyone on this campus with a gun," Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler told WTVD.

Witnesses said they saw the teen fall to the ground, bleeding, but no one saw a gun, the report said. The teen was taken to a hospital.

Cape Fear High School and nearby Mac Williams Middle School are on lockdown and officials say they will evacuate both schools once the campuses are secured.

Parents that gathered outside of the school to wait for their children told WTVD there was speculation about gang-related activity and an incident earlier this month that may have been related.

School officials and police, however, said that gang activity is not related to the shooting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Irene Destroys Historic North Carolina Home

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NAGS HEAD, N.C.) -- As people all along the East Coast dig out and assess the damage from Hurricane Irene, one image stands out as a vivid reminder of the storm’s aftermath.

Captured by Scott Olson of Getty Images, it’s a photo of a devastated dad, comforting his daughter on a set of wooden steps surrounded by water. The staircase is all that remains of their 108-year-old family cottage, swept away by Hurricane Irene-surged water.

The Stinson family -- dad Billy, wife Sandra and daughter Erin -- lost the cottage on Albemarle Sound at Nags Head, N.C., Sunday to the storm.

“We pretended, just for a moment, the cottage was still behind us and we were sitting there watching the sunset,” Erin Stinson said of the photo.

The Stinson’s turn-of-the-century home was built in 1903, one of the first vacation homes built on Albemarle Sound.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The cottage found itself in the eye of Hurricane Irene, and the results were devastating. The hurricane first made landfall on North Carolina’s famed Outer Banks, destroying vulnerable beach houses along the shoreline before whipping up the East Coast, causing 40 deaths and still-untold billions of dollars worth of damage.

The Stinsons, the home’s owners since 1963, say their neighbors and the community are helping them get through this tough time.

A May 2010 story in Our State magazine tells the story of the Stinson’s historic family home.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NC Couple Gives Birth During Hurricane Irene

(CAROLINA BEACH, N.C.) -- When it rains, it pours, for the Curtis family of Carolina Beach, N.C., who welcomed the arrival of a new addition, all while the eye of Hurricane Irene watched over.

"I fully expected that delivering a baby in August meant it would be hot and muggy," said new mother, Andi Curtis. "But I never thought hurricane would be an issue."

Andi and Jeff Curtis were admitted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C., Friday evening and welcomed daughter Parker Elizabeth during the height of the storm.

"I could see out the window but honestly I really wasn't paying attention during labor and delivery," said Andi Curtis.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center reported a dozen new babies within the near 17-hour lockdown of the hospital, and eight mothers in waiting. Now that the lockdown is lifted, the hospital expects several more soon-to-be mothers to rush in.

The hospital delivers about 4,000 babies a year. But according to Martha Harlan, a spokeswoman for New Hanover Regional Medical Center, the 12 so-called hurricane baby deliveries within their lockdown period suggests a 30 percent spike.

TheTheThe Curtis' evacuated their home on Friday and stayed at a hotel near the hospital. The bridge to Carolina Beach shut down on Friday and they didn't want to chance it. The hospital was on lockdown and Curtis expected to deliver after the weekend. But Parker Elizabeth just wouldn't wait.

In fact, some experts say the weather could be to blame for some mothers who go into labor unexpectedly.

"With the fall in barometric pressure seen around these weather events, maternal amniotic membranes (bag of waters) tend to rupture more easily, thus initiating spontaneous labor," said Dr. Robert Welch, chairman and program director of obstetrician and gynecology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich.

"Everybody kept telling me about barometric pressure," Curtis said. "But I just kept thinking the storm isn't going to make my child come."

And the weather may not only bring on a new bundle of joy. Some evidence suggests that natural disasters could be the basis of why some couples will soon find themselves expecting.

Fertility rates seem to rise during less severe storms in areas that are used to experiencing natural disasters, according to a 2010 report published in the Journal of Population Economics. But highly severe weather advisories don't seem to boost fertility, according to the report.

So will the hurricane inspire a new wave of Irenes to walk the earth?

The Curtises never planned on it.

"We will document her coming in a hurricane in other ways, like newspaper clippings," Curtis said. "We'll definitely remember it."

Harlan said only two of the couples at the hospital seemed to be considering the name Irene, but just as a middle name.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Irene: Tornado Warnings Issued for New York City

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Tornado warnings have been issued in the New York City and southern New England regions as Hurricane Irene moves up the east coast of the United States leaving a path of debris and destruction that has claimed at least eight lives so far.

At least 3.1 million homes and businesses are without power while thousands have been evacuated from their homes and approximately 9,600 residents in New York City are currently in evacuation shelters as Irene moves north at maximum sustained winds reaching 80 miles per hour.

Over 270,000 in New York have lost power, while in New Jersey at least 460,000 statewide are without power. The National Grid is reporting that 19,000-plus homes in Rhode Island lost power while 6,000-plus homes are currently without power in Massachusetts.

In lower Manhattan at Wall Street and South Street water from New York's East River is already breaching the seawall. Work crews are swarming the area attempting to halt water from shoving down the streets, where it could affect transformers in lower Manhattan and flow into the subway system.

Irene made a landfall along the coast of New Jersey near Little Egg inlet, just north of Atlantic City, around 5:35 a.m. The estimated intensity of Irene at landfall was 75 mph.

It is the second time Irene made landfall since slamming into North Carolina Saturday.

The hurricane is expected to move near or over the mid-Atlantic coast this morning and on to southern New England by the afternoon. Forecasts indicate Irene will weaken after landfall in New England and become a post-tropical cyclone Sunday night or early Monday.

Irene has been traveling north right on schedule. If it continues as it has, the center of the storm will be 40 miles south of New York City at 7 a.m., still over the ocean, off the coast near Asbury Park, N.J.

By 9 a.m. the center of the storm will be just south of Queens, N.Y. and between 10 and 11 a.m. the landfall is expected to be somewhere east of Manhattan on the Queens-Nassau border.

The deaths reported so far included victims of car accidents and falling tree limbs. One man suffered a heart attack as he boarded up his house in North Carolina.

A Maryland woman was killed when a chimney fell on her house. The unnamed woman was not killed instantly and was transported to a hospital where she was later pronounced dead, according to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Irene Hits North Carolina, Claims First Lives

ABC News(CAPE LOOKOUT, N.C.) -- Hurricane Irene—the monster storm rolling up the East Coast—has claimed its first lives, a North Carolina man killed outside his home by a tree limb that blew down this morning and another who reportedly died of a heart attack.

The center of Hurricane Irene hit the coast of North Carolina near Cape Lookout with Category 1-force winds of 85 mph.

Hurricane warnings for the next 48 hours have been issued for North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

So far, eastern North Carolina has already seen three tornadoes in the past few days, and the majority of the state and areas of Maryland and Virginia are under tornado watches through Sunday.

The far end of the fishing pier in Atlantic Beach, N.C. collapsed overnight. The 100-foot long pier is still standing, but its end has disappeared into the ocean.

Nearly 200,000 homes in North Carolina are experiencing power outages, according to Power Energy. Winds up to 85 mph ripped power lines from their poles, causing many of the shortages. The hardest hit areas were Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Irene Makes Landfall in North Carolina 

ABC News(CAPE LOOKOUT, N.C.) -- The center of Hurricane Irene has now hit the coast of North Carolina near Cape Lookout with 85 mph-winds.

Hurricane warnings for the next 48 hours have been issued for North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

So far, eastern North Carolina has already seen three tornadoes in the past few days, and the majority of the state and areas of Maryland and Virginia are under tornado watches through Sunday.

Stacy township, on the coast of North Carolina, is seeing 93 mph wind gusts this morning.

Over 24,000 flights have been grounded across the nation. All airports in the New York area will stop accepting arrivals at noon today. The airports expected to be impacted the most are in New York (Newark, JFK and LaGuardia), Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C.

Evacuations began Friday in New York City with the sick and the elderly.

NYU Langone Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Manhattan, two campuses of Staten Island University Hospital, and Coney Island Hospital have moved hundreds of patients to higher ground.

Today, around 370,000 people in zones the city has labeled A (closest to the water) and B (at sea level). It is the first time New York has ever evacuated its residents because of a hurricane. "It is better to take precautions and get out of the storm. Mother nature is much stronger than all of us," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a press conference Friday.

The storm is expected to be strong enough to flood heavily populated areas of the city. The storm surge is expected to reach above 5 feet, which would put Battery Park in southern Manhattan underwater.

The rest of the city may not have to evacuate, but they will be virtually stranded. At noon today, all subways, buses and trains around New York City—the world's largest transit system—will shut down.

Once winds reach 60 miles per hour, the beaches, bridges in and out of Manhattan and major highways will be closed. In New Jersey, Atlantic City is closing its casinos, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie emphatically ordered everyone off the beach.

"Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You're done. You've maximized your tan. Get off the beach," said Christie.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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