Showing posts with label North Carolina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label North Carolina. Show all posts

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Smoke From Great Dismal Swamp Spreads As Far As Baltimore

My husband was in North Carolina last week and took this photo of the smoke coming  from the Great Dismal Swamp fire. (below)

August 13, 2011SUFFOLK, Va. – The wildfire in the Great Dismal Swamp National Refuge has burned nearly 5,800 acres and remains only 10 percent contained.

Falling trees have become a serious concern for crews fighting the blaze. The fire is burning through the deep peat layer, which sometimes measures up to 6 feet below the surface. This layer provides the foundation for trees in many areas of the swamp and firefighters say trees are coming down in every direction, often blocking roads and escape routes.

“With the consumption of the organic material, the root structure is seriously weakened,” said Incident Safety Officer Brian Beisel. “This is going to be a concern, not only for the firefighters currently working here, but for anyone entering into these burned areas for some time to come.”

Increased smoke has forced air operations previously based in Suffolk to relocate to airports in Chesapeake and around Hampton Roads.

Firefighters plan to begin pumping water from Lake Drummond into ditches throughout the swamp to raise the water table and prevent the fire from further spreading.

Lightning sparked the fire, which was first reported Aug. 4 and is the largest in the refuge's history. Smoke from the blaze has been visible in satellite photographs taken from space. Smoke from the blaze has spread as far as Annapolis and Baltimore in Maryland.

Portions of the Refuge are closed to the public including: Lake Drummond, Railroad Ditch, West Ditch, Interior Ditch and Corapeake Ditch Roads. The area of the Refuge south of Corapeake Ditch Road is also closed. The North Carolina Dismal Swamp State Park is closed. The Corps of Engineers has closed the Feeder Ditch, the Lake Drummond Reservation, and the alternative route of the Intracoastal Waterway, the Dismal Swamp Canal.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wright Brothers Visitor Center Closed Due To Damages

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) - A fire has closed the visitor center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills until further notice.

The National Park Service says the fire began Wednesday morning in a motor that powers an air handling unit at the facility. No injuries were reported, and everyone was evacuated from the building.

The visitors center includes exhibits and artifacts on the background of Orville and Wilbur Wright and the development of their flying machines, including a replica of the 1903 airplane credited with being the first successful heavier-than-air flight.

The rest of the park, including the Wright Brothers Pavilion, remains open to the public.

The park service says the visitor center could be reopened in several days.


5-Year Old Shark Attack Victim Is In Good Spirits

Being carefree is a way of life at the Outer Banks for vacationers.

But the harsh reality of the dangers lurking in these waters has put worries in the back of parents' minds, after a 5-year-old girl was attacked by a shark while boogie boarding in 18-inch deep water yesterday.
"You don't know what to expect these days, but we are hearing a few more stories like that and it's very unfortunate," says John Creef from Manteo.
Midday, the beach is packed but the recent shark attack is keeping some people out of the water. It's the second shark attack in North Carolina in the past month.

"It's crazy, you really don't know what's in there, it's pretty dangerous especially with the recent news of this shark attack," says Matt Wisergener.

As the tide rolls in, kids frolic in the water. Staying together is key; sharks usually shy away from packs, instead looking to pick off individuals.

During the day everyone here is safe, the sharks are well off the shore, but later on they'll make their way closer to the coast.

"I would not swim at dusk or dawn that's when sharks generally feed. That's when they will come into the shallows and follow bait into the shallows," says Mike Remige with Jennette's Pier.

What type of shark attacked the young girl is still being determined. There are a handful of types that patrol these waters, that's why it's important to look where you're going when you're strolling in the ocean.

"What happens is that somebody steps into a ball of bait and where the sharks of just kind of passing through and feeding anyway and they are inadvertently bit, it's an accidental thing," he says.

NewChannel 3 received a statement from the girl's family this afternoon, stating:

"Our daughter is in good condition after receiving a shark bite to the right leg. The shark attack occurred in two feet of water on Ocracoke Island. Mom was ten feet away and witnessed the event. Paramedics arrived promptly and she received excellent medical attention from EMS personnel, life-flight crew, and Pitt County Memorial Hospital medical staff in Greenville. She is in good spirits, declaring this morning that, "I hate sharks. I like dolphins way better."


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Baltimore Teen Likely Fell From Plane

A Massachusetts prosecutor said Friday it's likely that a North Carolina teen originally from Baltimore whose mutilated body was found in a Boston suburb fell from the sky after stowing away in an airplane's wheel well.

Norfolk District Attorney William Keating cited evidence including a handprint in the wheel well, clothes strewn along the plane's flight path and an autopsy report indicating the teen fell "from a significant height."

Keating said Friday that he had informed federal transportation safety officials about the apparent airport security breach by 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale.

"To withhold any information at this point I think would endanger public safety," said Keating, a Democrat who was elected in November to represent Massachusetts' 10th Congressional District.

Keating held a news conference Friday after police searched a wooded area in Milton near where Tisdale's body was found last month. Along a path a Boston-bound plane would have taken while approaching the city, they found dark sneakers with white stripes and a red shirt matching clothing Tisdale's family said he'd worn, Keating said. Keating said an autopsy showed trauma to Tisdale's body "was consistent with a fall from a significant height."

Investigators also discovered a handprint in grease inside the wheel well on the left side of a Boeing 737 that took off from Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 15, the night Tisdale's body was found, Keating said.

"We feel it's important to inform federal transportation safety officials that it appears more likely than not that Mr. Tisdale was able to breach airport security and hide in the wheel well of a commercial jet liner without being detected by airport security personnel," Keating said.

Keating called what happened to Tisdale "a terrible tragedy."

"But if that was someone with a different motive, if that was a terrorist, that could be a bomb planted on there undetected," Keating said.

Jon Allen, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said: "We will work with the airport, which is responsible for access control security, to conduct a thorough investigation based on the facts and information provided by law enforcement."

Tisdale was a member of the Air Force ROTC program at North Mecklenburg High School near Charlotte. His father, Anthony, said the family had moved from Greensboro to Charlotte in the summer so the teen could join that program. Anthony Tisdale said his son was happy in Charlotte and stayed out of trouble.

But Delvonte Tisdale's brother, Anthony Tisdale Jr., said his brother was unhappy in North Carolina and had never wanted to leave Baltimore.

Delvonte's grandmother, Lula Mae Smith, said Friday evening from her home in Baltimore that she hadn't been told about the prosecutor's finding.

"This is a surprise," Smith said. "He was such a good boy. I don't know what happened — why he would jump on an airplane. I just don't know."

Laura Attikou, Delvonte's aunt, said her brother's son was well-behaved and had a good life.

"The biggest mystery to me is how did he get on that plane? Where was security?" she said from her home in Greensboro, N.C. "We're still at a loss. We're still in shock."

Keating said Tisdale was last seen by a sibling at home in North Carolina at 1:30 a.m. The flight he's believed to have boarded took off at about 7 o'clock that evening, and investigators confirmed flight times and paths with the Federal Aviation Administration, he said.

Just before 9 p.m., someone who lived near where the body was found heard a loud crashing noise, Keating said. At 9:30 p.m., Tisdale's body was discovered without shirt or shoes by a group of college students in Milton, an affluent Boston suburb.

Keating said his office first tried to determine whether Tisdale was a crime victim. The body was found after apparently being run over by a Jeep and then an Audi, and investigators found blood and tissue on the undercarriages of both vehicles. But Keating said there was no proof of a hit-and-run, Keating said.

He said police also interviewed family members in North Carolina without finding a "scintilla" of evidence of foul play.

Last week, detectives visited the Charlotte airport to take samples of grease used in maintaining the planes, to see if it matched grease found on Tisdale's pants. (The tests have not been completed.) That's when they found scuff marks and the handprint in the wheel well, Keating said.

Keating acknowledged initially that it seemed like a remote possibility that a teen could sneak onto a commercial jet.

"This wouldn't be the first [possibility] a person would think about," he said.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards - Gravely Ill

Chapel Hill, N.C. — Elizabeth Edwards' cancer has spread, and her health has deteriorated, her family said in a statement Monday.

Edwards, 61, the estranged wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, was briefly hospitalized recently, but she is now at home, where her family and friends, including John Edwards, are lending their support.

"I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends and a faith in the power of resilience and hope," Edwards wrote in a message posted Monday on her Facebook page. "These graces have carried me through difficult times, and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that."

Edwards was first diagnosed with cancer in the final weeks of the 2004 presidential campaign, when her husband, who was at the time a U.S. senator from North Carolina, was the Democratic nominee for vice president. The couple didn't disclose her illness until after the election.

The cancer went into remission after months of treatment, but it resurfaced in early 2007, as John Edwards was mounting a second run at the White House. The Edwardses agreed at the time that they wouldn't allow the cancer to derail his candidacy.

Because the cancer had moved into her bones in 2007, her doctors said at that time that it was no longer curable but could be treated.

Doctors now have recommended she not receive further treatment, according to the statement from her family.

Elizabeth Edwards has written two books about how she has overcome adversity in her life, "Resilience" and "Saving Graces."

She and her husband separated about a year ago after more than 30 years of marriage. The split followed John Edwards' affair with a campaign staffer.

The couple has four children: Wade, who died in a vehicle wreck in 1996; Cate, a lawyer in Washington, D.C.; and Emma Claire, 12, and Jack, 10, who both live in Chapel Hill with their mother.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

5 Kemp's Ridleys Released From Turtle Center

TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C. (AP) - All eagerly splashed around their tanks, almost sensing that their time to go home was growing near.

There was Warrior, who was recovering from a skull fracture; Surf City II, who had a bad experience with fishing gear; Tripod, who was missing a flipper; and two other sea turtles that also had finished their treatment at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

But there was something unusual about this year's annual late-summer release from the Topsail Beach-based facility.

All five of the turtles being returned to the Atlantic on Tuesday afternoon were Kemp's ridleys.

"It's like this is the year of the Kemps," said team leader Karen Sota, noting that the hospital has seen more Kemp's ridley turtles this year than loggerheads and green turtles combined. "And we really don't know why."

They are considered the most endangered sea turtle in the world, are exceedingly rare visitors on North Carolina beaches and receive strict protection under both federal and state law.

Yet Kemp's ridley turtles have been showing up this year in increasing numbers in North Carolina's coastal waters and in fishermen's nets.

The result has been a surge of juvenile Kemp's ridleys finding their way to the sea turtle hospital suffering from an assortment of ailments and a potentially growing headache for state fisheries officials, who are struggling with how to keep fishermen fishing while staying in compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act.

That sea turtles and fishermen sometimes run into conflict while sharing the same bodies of water isn't unusual.

"The problem is we haven't seen a lot of Kemps until now," said Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel, noting that historically its been juvenile green turtles getting snared in the gill nets.

Because greens have been the sea turtles caught in the greatest numbers in the past, the federal "take" permit allowing the state's gill net fishermen to interact with the endangered animals allows the most leeway with that species.

But this summer, most of the observed incidents have involved Kemp's ridleys.

If that trend continues, it could prove challenging to keep the fishery open for very long especially under the number of Kemp "takes" the division has requested from National Marine Fisheries in its new gill net permit application.

But a study released this summer by the nonpartisan National Research Council found that a lack of solid data on sea turtle numbers can make it difficult for regulators to determine reasonable conservation measures.

There's little chance in the short term of more leeway, however, especially with the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Kemp's nesting beaches in the Gulf still unknown. So state fisheries officials are aggressively looking into ways to develop more turtle-friendly fishing gear and practices.

But no one knows if any innovation will be enough to keep the fisheries open if there is a dramatic increase in the number of Kemp's ridleys foraging in state waters during the warm-water months.

A more basic question is where are the turtles coming from, and why now

According to state records, North Carolina saw zero Kemp's ridley nests last year and only three so far this year.

Biologists said that's normal, since the turtles rarely come ashore here to nest.

So where are all of the juvenile turtles coming from? Are they fleeing the oil spill in the Gulf, or is this just a one-year anomaly, possibly tied to the exceedingly warm ocean temperatures we've seen this year?

Or is it simply the case of the conservation measures that began several decades ago finally bearing fruit?

While she hopes that's the case, sea turtle hospital Director Jean Beasley on Monday cautioned that one good year doesn't make a trend especially with a population so fragile as the Kemp's ridleys.

"But it is a good sign," she said. "Considering where they were, we'll take it."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

North Carolina Orders Ocracoke Evacuation On Wednesday

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 31 (UPI) -- North Carolina officials Tuesday announced vacationers will be evacuated from Ocracoke Island as Hurricane Earl gained strength over the Atlantic Ocean.

An estimated 5,000 visitors are on the island, which is accessible only by ferry. The evacuation is set for Wednesday morning, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported.

About 800 permanent residents of the island will be permitted to remain, officials said.

Plans also called for closing the Cape Lookout National Seashore at 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

Federal Emergency Management Agency head Craig Fugate said Tuesday was the day for people who may be in the path of the Category 4 storm to prepare, in event further evacuations are ordered Wednesday, the newspaper said.

"While it is still too early to tell exactly what impact Hurricane Earl will have on our state," North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue said, "we do know that we all bear a responsibility to ensure we are ready for any type of emergency."

At 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said the center of Hurricane Earl was 1,000 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and the storm, with top sustained winds of 135 mph, was moving toward the northwest at 14 mph. This general motion was expected to continue Wednesday, when the storm was likely to take a gradual turn toward the north-northwest, forecasters said.

A hurricane watch was posted from north of Surf City, N.C., to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. A tropical storm watch was issued from Cape Fear, N.C., northeastward to Surf City.

The center said communities from Virginia to New England should monitor the hurricane.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Prosecutors Not Allowed To Revive Dismissed Drunk Driving Charges

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina judge says prosecutors cannot revive charges against more than 30 people whose drunken driving charges were dismissed several years ago as part of a ticket-fixing case.

Multiple media outlets reported that Judge Joseph Setzer denied the request on procedural grounds.

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle had argued that the cases were improperly dismissed with the signature of an assistant prosecutor who had resigned. Setzer said the cases couldn't be reactivated under a "motion for appropriate relief" because that's only supposed to be used after a verdict has been issue.

Four defense attorneys and a prosecutor pleaded guilty this year as part of the ticket-fixing case.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Volunteers Relocate Eggs Of Rare Leatherback Turtle

HOLDEN BEACH, N.C. (AP) — Eggs from a rare leatherback turtle are safer on a North Carolina beach, thanks to the work of volunteers who saw the nesting turtle and moved the eggs to higher ground.

The StarNews of Wilmington reported Thursday that Mary Marwitz of the Holden Beach Turtle Patrol says volunteers saw the turtle earlier this week. She estimated the turtle at 6-feet-long and 800 pounds.

Marwitz watched the turtle for about 30 minutes early Tuesday until she went back out to sea. Volunteers then moved about 70 eggs to an area away from the high tide line. They staked off the nest to alert beachgoers and added grates and fox cages to stop predators from eating the eggs. Leatherbacks are the largest living reptiles in the world and are endangered. Marwitz says they usually prefer to nest farther south than North Carolina.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Strict Rules For Facebook Page

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The city of Charlotte plans to bar public viewing of comments on its Facebook page when it is up and running, a policy that runs counter to other major cities in North Carolina.

The Charlotte Observer reported Monday that only city staff will be allow to view citizens' comments because officials fear they'll be sued if they delete comments that are deemed inappropriate.

City attorney Bob Hagemann says court precedents say the city can't stop someone from talking -- or posting -- just because it doesn't like what the person says.

Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Asheville allow citizens to post comments that other Facebook users can see, as does Mecklenburg County.

The city adopted its policy last month. The city-sponsored Facebook page and Twitter feed could be running in the next couple of months.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bodie Island Lighthouse To Be Renovated

NAGS HEAD, N.C. (WAVY) - The Bodie Island Lighthouse has been a beacon near Nags Head since 1872. Now, the landmark is getting a facelift, that many say is long overdue.

With its signature black and white stripes, the Bodie Island Lighthouse stands 156 feet tall. Its sweeping beam of light can be seen for up to 19 miles at sea and is in need of repair.

"In the last three years we have a lot of pieces that have fallen off the light house, a lot of rust," said Doug Stover, a historian.

The renovation project includes replacing the windows and balconies and all the metal; repairing all 214 stairs; refurbishing the marble floors; extensive work to the lantern...and even a fresh coat of paint.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is one of four working lighthouses in the Outerbanks with a long history of folklore and mystery.

"We've heard anywhere from bodies washing ashore to potentially a land owner who's name was Bodie so we still don't know," said Stover

One person who may know is 94-year-old John Gaskill, whose father was the last principal keeper. For 21 years his family worked the lighthouse.

"My early chore there was filtering the kerosene for the light for the night," Gaskill said. "It was three gallons, best I can remember. I would measure it for him; that was my first job."

Other jobs like cutting the grass and painting the lighthouse kept Gaskill busy. When he turned 17, he enlisted in the Navy and moved away. In his retirement he has returned to the lighthouse as a volunteer--perhaps to clear up a few mysteries/

"I lived here from 1919 to 1933," he said. "Practically every summer--at least parts of every summer--and never knew of a body washing ashore."

And although most ships these days use modern technology like GPS for guidance, it's still nice to know the Bodie Island Lighthouse and its beacon will once again keep a silent watch over the waters, which are known as the graveyard of the Atlantic.

"It will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up to think of what went on here years and years and years ago," said Larry Cooley, a visitor at the lighthouse.

After the renovations are completed the lighthouse will be open to the public.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Beached Whale Found --Kitty Hawk, N.C.

KITTY HAWK, N.C. A beached whale was discovered dead in Kitty Hawk, N.C. Sunday, according to Officer Gard with the Dare County police.

The whale was a 10-12-foot Pilot whale, and was sick when it died, said the Marine Stranding team. They will do an autopsy (necropsy) on the mammal to determine its cause of death. Dare County police say they are waiting for scientists from Wilmington, N.C., to complete the autopsy (necropsy).

The Marine Stranding team called on ABC Towing in Kitty Hawk to remove the animal from the beach.