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September 17, 2018 - 12:00 am


Death tolls often rise weeks after storm hits

It's not uncommon for death tolls to rise weeks after a natural disaster has hit.

More than six months after Hurricane Irma's catastrophic rampage across the Caribbean and the southeastern United States, the U.S. National Hurricane Center raised the death toll to 129 — more than twice the amount reported at the end of the storm.

It also took years for Hurricane Katrina's death toll to become fully known. That number is still debated today with figures used by different agencies varying by as much as 600 deaths.

President Donald Trump has questioned Puerto Rico's adjusted death toll from the devastating storm last year and said the number rose "like magic."

Disaster experts say realistic death tolls take time.


The Latest: 3-month-old dies when tree falls on home

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — The death toll from Hurricane Florence and its remnants has risen to 17 as officials say a 3-month-old died in North Carolina when a tree landed on a mobile home.

Gaston County manager Earl Mathers said in an email to commissioners the tree fell on a mobile home Sunday in Dallas, about 240 miles (386 kilometers) west of where Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday in Wrightsville Beach.

County spokesman James McConnell confirmed to The Associated Press that officials believe the tree fell because of the rain and wind from the storm's remnants.


US hurricane, Asian typhoon: 1 brings water, the other, wind

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut roared ashore the same day half a world apart, but the way they spread devastation was as different as water and wind.

Storms in the western Pacific generally hit with much higher winds and the people who live in their way are often poorer and more vulnerable. Princeton University hurricane scientist Gabriel Vecchi said Saturday that differences in the storms also are likely to determine the type of destruction.

Mangkhut made landfall Friday in the Philippines with 165 mph (265 kph) winds. Florence had 90 mph (145 kph) winds on reaching North Carolina. Fast-moving Magnkhut quickly turn back out to sea, heading toward China. Meanwhile, Florence plodded across the Carolinas slower than a normal person walks, dumping heavy rains and causing severe flooding.


Before and after a storm, the supply stores are critical

MIAMI (AP) — Before and after a hurricane, Ace is the place. And Home Depot and Lowe's. And many other hardware and building supply outlets.

Not surprisingly, these companies plan for storms such as Hurricane Florence all year. Much like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, supplies are pre-positioned and trucks loaded and ready to go with everything from batteries to gas cans to tarps to chainsaws.

Here's the thing: the government can only do so much. Most people must fend for themselves at some point, and the local hardware or building supply store is where they go. Not everything is available easily online. Try to buy some drywall that way.

"It's a year-round thing for us," said

Margaret Smith, spokeswoman for Atlanta-based Home Depot, says: "When it's hurricane season, we are operating 24 hours a day."


Grid manager says power supply better in South, ends warning

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A regional electricity grid manager says electric system conditions have improved and customers in most of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and a slice of eastern Texas no longer need to reduce usage.

Mississippi's Cooperative Energy relayed the news Saturday evening from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator. The entity, known as MISO (MEYE' soh) dispatches power to customers in all or part of 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

MISO had said earlier that some power plants were down, while high temperatures were driving air conditioner use.

If supply hadn't demand, utilities including Entergy Corp., Cleco Corp. and cooperatives could have resorted to rolling blackouts.


Court denies appeal by auditor in personnel file dispute

(Information from: KTBS-TV,

MANSFIELD, La. (AP) — A legal dispute over whether the Louisiana Legislative Auditor can access a sheriff's department personnel files will remain in northwest Louisiana.

KTBS-TV reports the Louisiana Supreme Court turned down an appeal from the auditor's office seeking to have the dispute moved from a DeSoto Parish court to East Baton Rouge Parish.

The files are connected to an investigation by state auditors into a ticket-writing program where the state pays deputies overtime to enforce traffic laws. Some deputies have been caught padding overtime.

Auditors in June subpoenaed Sheriff Jayson Richardson, seeking his unredacted personnel file and those of 12 employees - the majority of whom are retired or hold administrative positions.

Richardson has since said that nine current or former employees are making files available to auditors.



Tulane requires classes on racial diversity for new students

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tulane University is requiring that all new students study racial diversity as part of the school's undergraduate curriculum.

The New Orleans Advocate reports the school announced the requirement on Wednesday.

Students will also have to take another class on global perspectives.

Both classes will be required for new students to graduate.

The class requirements come after several incidents where minority students complained of harassment by white students.

In 2015, some students posted racist comments on an anonymous social media app. After that, the university's president convened a commission on race and university values. It was the commission that recommended the changes.

Students will have to complete the coursework by the end of their sophomore year.


'Go back to Mexico' remark leads to hate crimes charge

GONZALEZ, La. (AP) — A south Louisiana man has been booked on hate crimes charges after police say he told woman in a store to "go back to Mexico" and then attacked her parents.

Gonzales Police said 60-year-old Robert Ray of Donaldsonville approached the 19-year-old woman and made the comment at a store on Friday.

When her mother, Salome Martinez, told Ray the comment was "not a nice thing to say," police say, Ray then pushed her to the floor. Police say Ray also hit the woman's father, Alfredo Buitureira, with his fist and a boot when Buitureira intervened.

Police say Ray also has been booked with two counts of simple battery and criminal damage to property. He was jailed and it's unclear if bail has been set or if Ray has a lawyer.

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