TIME weather

Hurricane Arthur Heads Northeast, Brings July 4 Travel Chaos

Gridlock spans the Eastern U.S. with more than a thousand flights canceled on a weekend when 41 million Americans are expected to travel

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Updated 12:11 p.m. E.T.

Hurricane Arthur made its way north up the East Coast on Friday, after forcing thousands of Fourth of July vacationers to evacuate and creating gridlock on highways and skyways as rain scrambled holiday plans and rescheduled fireworks shows.

After the hurricane made landfall late Thursday night, the National Weather Service said North Carolina could get eight inches of rain on Friday, while areas as far north as Cape Cod in Massachusetts could se six inches. Arthur became a Category 2 storm overnight, and fierce winds were expected to push into Virginia on Friday. Authorities warned of coastal flooding and dangerous ocean conditions up and down the East Coast, and tropical storm warnings were in effect all the way to Cape Cod. It weakened to a Category 1 storm Friday morning as it moved up the East Coast.

Despite sunny skies forecast for the weekend, heavy rain had already wreaked havoc on Fourth of July plans. Cities as far north as Boston had rescheduled their fireworks for Thursday night or later in the weekend in anticipation of soggy weather.

Arthur was the earliest hurricane to hit North Carolina since record-keeping efforts began in 1851. The storm system continued to bring heavy rains and winds of up to 100 m.p.h. early Friday morning, with meteorologists anticipating “little change in strength” as the storm grazes the Eastern seaboard over the course of the day.

More than 21,000 people across North and South Carolina were without electricity early Friday morning, the Associated Press reports. The storm was heading northeast at 22 m.p.h. and was about 80 miles north of Cape Lookout, N.C., by early Friday, CNN reports.

Arthur created a pattern of gridlock spanning the U.S. More than a thousand flights had been canceled by midday Thursday—a frustrating start to a weekend when 41 million Americans were projected to travel.

“I found out at 5 p.m. [on Wednesday] that my 7:50 p.m. flight was canceled due to ‘air-traffic congestion [because of Arthur],” Taylor Laub, who was scheduled to fly to Philadelphia from Atlanta, told TIME from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Her rescheduled flight had been “successively delayed” into late Thursday night.

The scene at Reagan Washington National Airport on Thursday afternoon was chaos as Hurricane Arthur continued to gather strength off the coast of North Carolina. Passengers on flights scheduled to leave mid-afternoon were still waiting at 8:30 p.m.

One such passenger was David Luterman, who did his best to ignore the turmoil around him, reading a magazine in front of Gate 2 in Reagan National’s Terminal A, waiting to take off on what should have been a 3:40 p.m. Jet Blue flight to Boston. “Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize,” a Jet Blue employee announced over the loudspeaker around 5:45 p.m. “We’re just waiting for the lightning to clear for the ramp to open so we can land, disembark and clean the plane to continue on to Boston. We hope to have you on your way as soon as possible.”

Three hours later, that flight still hadn’t boarded.

Luterman had hoped make it back to his Boston-area home to spend the holiday weekend with his family. “I really want to get home,” he said.

In the days preceding the storm, state authorities warned of flooding and other damage, prompting mandatory evacuations in vulnerable areas and forcing thousands of vacationers to make alternate plans for their Fourth of July weekend. Tourism officials in North Carolina had initially projected a quarter of a million people to travel to the beaches of the Outer Banks for the holiday.

“We’ve lost a lot of business because of the storm — people are afraid of hurricanes,” said Jeff, the night manager of the Nags Head Inn in Nags Head, N.C., early Friday morning. “We were expecting to be 80 to 90% full, and now it’s looking more like 60.”

Storm preparation is a familiar routine along the North Carolina coast, where some of the most devastating tropical cyclones of recent years have made landfall. As Arthur churned in the Atlantic on Thursday, local supermarkets were crowded with residents stocking up on flashlights and bottled water. The town of Surf City canceled its Fourth of July celebration.

Rough surf and rip currents will remain a major concern along East Coast beaches, and swimmers have been advised to be extra cautious.

At the same time, a good number of North Carolinians have responded with indifference, dismissing the ongoing media coverage of the hurricane as unnecessarily alarmist.

“We had a big increase in sales today, which is normal when hurricanes come,” an employee at a Harris Teeter grocery store in the beach town of Kitty Hawk said. “But it’s really not too bad. It seems pretty overhyped.”

-Additional reporting by Jay Newton-Small/Washington

TIME weather

Hurricane Arthur Threatens July 4 Weekend for Many

Hurricane Arthur 4th of July
Kyler Cook, 18, walks through the storm surge of Hurricane Arthur in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., on July 3, 2014. Randall Hill—Reuters

“Don’t put your stupid hat on,” North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said at a press conference after declaring a state of emergency

Updated 11:34 p.m. E.T. Thursday.

Hurricane Arthur has finally made landfall near the southern end of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Arthur reached land around 11:15 p.m. on Thursday between Cape Lookout and Beaufort, N.C.

Arthur was a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h) and was located about 65 miles (105 km) southwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C., the Associated Press reported. It is moving northeast at 18 m.p.h. (30 km/h).

Fourth of July plans came to a screeching halt for many across the U.S. on Thursday, as the effects of a Category 1 hurricane began to work their way up the East Coast, causing flight delays and cancellations, and evacuations in some critical areas.

The scene at Reagan Washington National Airport on Thursday afternoon was chaos as Hurricane Arthur continued to gather strength off the coast of North Carolina. Passengers on flights scheduled to leave mid-afternoon were still waiting at 8:30 p.m.

One such passenger was David Luterman, who did his best to ignore the turmoil around him, reading a magazine in front of Gate 2 in Reagan National’s Terminal A, waiting to take off on what should have been a 3:40 p.m. Jet Blue flight to Boston. “Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize,” a Jet Blue employee announced over the loudspeaker around 5:45 p.m. “We’re just waiting for the lightning to clear for the ramp to open so we can land, disembark and clean the plane to continue on to Boston. We hope to have you on your way as soon as possible.”

Three hours later, that flight still hadn’t boarded.

Luterman had hoped make it back to his Boston-area home to spend the holiday weekend with his family. “I really want to get home,” he said.

Washington remained under a severe-storm warming until 9 p.m. Thursday. Tropical-storm warnings were also issued Thursday afternoon for Nantucket Island and parts of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, AP reported, though the full brunt of the storm itself likely won’t reach that far north until late Friday.

At the next gate over, a woman who only wanted to be known as H.R. clutched in one hand the remnants of a three-hour-old salad, her son’s tickets, passport and her iPhone in another. She was trying to get her 13-year-old son to Toronto where his five cousins were eagerly awaiting his two-week visit. That flight and one to Montreal were canceled.

“I booked a flight to Thailand for myself months ago,” H.R. said. “I leave tomorrow but if I can’t get him out,” she said, poking her lanky son who towered over her, “I can’t go. The other airline isn’t going to be sympathetic about Air Canada’s cancellations.”

Every gate in the terminal had people stacked in line, haggling with gate agents over tickets and delays. The walls were lined with would-be passengers as empty seats were not to be found. “It’s going to be a long night,” said John Henry, whose flight to Miami for a bachelor party was already two hours delayed. He and his buddies had already downed a few beers at the airport bar. “But I feel like I went straight to hangover. This is un-fun.”

Arthur’s current estimated trajectory has it grazing North Carolina’s northern seashore by Friday morning, prompting officials to order a mandatory evacuation of Hatteras Island — one of the many barrier islands making up the Outer Banks, where a quarter of a million people were projected to converge for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to the Associated Press. “Don’t put your stupid hat on,” North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said at a press conference Thursday, after declaring a state of emergency in 25 coastal counties, urging swimmers and surfers to avoid the ocean in light of the impending storm. “Our major goal is to ensure that no lives are lost during this upcoming storm,” McCrory said.

Here’s the latest storm track, via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

hurricane-arthur-track
NOAA

Hurricane Arthur is forecasted to weaken by Friday night and become a post-tropical cyclone by Saturday.

[AP]

TIME North Carolina

Hurricane Warning Issued for Swath of N.C. Coast as Arthur Moves Toward the State

(MIAMI) — Hurricane warning issued for swath of North Carolina coast as Arthur moves toward the state.

MONEY Ask the Expert

How Do I Find the Best Place to Retire?

140605_AskExpert_illo
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: I live in New Jersey. Which state would be financially better to retire to: Pennsylvania or North Carolina? – Kevin, Bridgewater, NJ

A: Your cost of living in retirement can make or break your quality of life, so it’s smart to take financial factors into account as you decide where to live. Moving from New Jersey where taxes are steep and home prices are high to a more affordable area will allow your savings to stretch further. Housing and property taxes are the biggest expenses for older Americans, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

By those measures, North Carolina and Pennsylvania both stack up fairly well. Neither state taxes Social Security benefits or has an estate tax, though Pennsylvania has an inheritance tax and North Carolina will begin taxing pension income for the 2014 tax year. When it comes to cost of living, Pennsylvania has a slight edge. The median price of homes in Pennsylvania is $179,000 vs. $199,000 for North Carolina, according to Zillow. Income tax is a flat 3.07% in Pennsylvania while North Carolina has a 5.8% income tax rate. You can find more details on taxes in each state at the Tax Foundation and CCH. But both states have cities—Raleigh and Pittsburgh—that landed at the top of MONEY’s most recent Best Places to Retire list.

Of course, you need to look beyond taxes and home prices when choosing a place to live in retirement, says Miami financial planner Ellen Siegel. Does your dream locale have high quality, accessible healthcare or will you have to travel far to find good doctors? Will you be near a transportation hub or will you live in a rural area that’s expensive to fly out of when you want to visit family and friends?

There are lifestyle considerations, too. If you like to spend time outside, will the climate allow you enjoy those outdoor activities most of the year? If you favor rich cultural offerings and good restaurants nearby, what will you find? Small towns tend to be less expensive but may not offer a vibrant arts scene or many dining options.

To determine whether a place is really a good fit for your retirement, you need to spend more than a few vacation days there. So practice retirement by visiting at different times of the year for longer periods. Stay in a neighborhood area where you want to live and get to know area residents. “Having a strong social network is important as you get older and if you move to a new area, you want to make sure you can make meaningful connections and find fulfilling activities,” says Siegel. By test driving your retirement locations before you move, you”ll have a better shot at getting it right.

Have a question about your finances? Send it to asktheexpert@moneymail.com.

TIME Education

N.C. School Principal Allegedly Made Students Walk for Hours in Heat

Furious parents say the kids were punished for not wearing their uniforms on the last day of school

School officials in North Carolina’s Cumberland County are investigating allegations that an elementary school principal forced students to walk for at least two hours in the hot sun as a punishment for not wearing their uniforms.

Parents at Manchester Elementary School in Spring Lake, N.C., say Principal Tammy Holland ordered the students to walk on a dirt track until their parents picked them up or brought a change of clothes last Tuesday — the last day of the school year — according to the Fayetteville Observer.

Students, who believed they could skip the uniform on the last day of school, were not allowed to eat while they walked in humid air with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the high 80s, parents say. Teachers were also allegedly instructed not to give students any water.

Superintendent Frank Till Jr. said that, if true, the incident would be considered corporal punishment, as Cumberland County schools prohibit using physical activity as a form of punishment for students outside of athletics.

When reached for comment by the Observer, Holland referred inquiries to Till.

“I want her removed from that school so she can never make a mistake like that again,” Laquitta Lockhart, a parent of a fifth-grader, told the paper. “When I got out there, they had stopped under the tree because it was so hot. It would break your heart.”

[Fayetteville Observer]

TIME Environment

Supreme Court Rules Against Homeowners in Toxic Water Case

Court says too much time has passed in North Carolina case for legal action against electronics company CTS Corp

The Supreme Court ruled against homeowners from North Carolina attempting to a sue an electronics company that contaminated their drinking water decades ago.

The court ruled that the state’s statute of repose, which states that a plaintiff loses the right to seek property damages 10 years after contamination occurred, should stand. The ruling is a setback for property owners in similar positions.

The case on Monday involved property owners living where CTS Corp. made electronics in 1987. The residents did not realize their water was contaminated with chemicals until 2009, the Associated Press reports. The chemicals in the water can cause health problems ranging from birth defects to cancers.

Homeowners argued that under federal environment laws, their case was still valid despite the statute of repose. The Supreme Court did not agree.

The ruling is a blow for U.S. Marines families involved in a separate case in Camp Lejeune, N.C. It’s estimated that up to 1 million people may have been exposed to contaminated groundwater over several decades in Camp Lejeune. The Associated Press says the U.S. government is relying on the same law to avoid liability for the contamination.

[AP]

 

TIME States

Young Children Are Getting Sick Working on U.S. Tobacco Farms

Tobacco farm - Warfield, VA
Tobacco farmer in Warfield, Va., on Aug. 30, 2013 Matt McClain—The Washington Post/Getty Images

A new Human Rights Watch report finds that child laborers, some as young as 7 years old, who work on tobacco farms in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, "get so sick that they throw up, get covered by pesticides and have no real protective gear"

Children as young as 7 years old are suffering serious health problem from toiling long hours in tobacco fields to harvest pesticide-laced leaves for major cigarette brands, according to a report released Wednesday.

New York City–based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) interviewed more than 140 youngsters working on tobacco farms in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, where most American tobacco is sourced.

They reported nausea, vomiting, headaches and other health problems associated with nicotine poisoning, known colloquially as green tobacco sickness, which is common among agricultural workers who absorb the toxic substance through their skin.

“The U.S. has failed America’s families by not meaningfully protecting child farmworkers from dangers to their health and safety, including on tobacco farms,” said Margaret Wurth, HRW children’s-rights researcher and co-author of the report.

“Farming is hard work anyway, but children working on tobacco farms get so sick that they throw up, get covered by pesticides and have no real protective gear.”

Much of what HRW documented remains legal. While strict provisions govern child labor in industrial environments, U.S. agriculture labor laws are much looser, allowing 12-year-olds to labor for unlimited hours outside of school on any size of farm. On small farms, there is no minimum age set for child workers.

HRW called on tobacco giants to ensure safe working practices and source responsibly. The global tobacco industry generates annual revenues of around $500 billion, but some 6 million people die each year from smoking-related diseases.

Not everyone favors stricter controls. Republican Kentucky state senator Paul Hornback says he worked in tobacco fields from when he was 10 years old and doesn’t think further legislation is necessary. “It’s hard manual labor, but there’s nothing wrong with hard manual labor,” he told the Associated Press.

TIME 2014 Election

Clay Aiken Wins Congressional Primary After Opponent Dies

Clay Aiken speaks to supporters during an election night watch party in Holly Springs, N.C., May 6, 2014.
Clay Aiken speaks to supporters during an election night watch party in Holly Springs, N.C., May 6, 2014. Gerry Broome—AP

The former American Idol contestant was declared victor in a Democratic congressional primary, with 40% of the vote, a day after his main competitor Keith Crisco suffered a fall and died

Former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken was declared the winner of a Democratic congressional primary in North Carolina, election officials said Tuesday, a day after his main competitor in the race died.

Keith Crisco died Monday after suffering a fall in his home; he was 71. The two had been vying for the Democratic nomination to take on incumbent Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers. The race had been too close to call ever since the May 6 primary election, but unofficial election results posted online showed that the singer-turned-candidate won just over 40% of the vote in the three-person race—edging his late opponent by less than 400 votes.

Crisco’s campaign manager said the candidate died shortly after deciding he would concede to Aiken, the Associated Press reports.

The results will become official after they are reviewed by the state election board on May 22.

Aiken said he would pause his campaign out of respect for Crisco’s family and friends.

TIME The Brief

Obama Offers U.S. Help for Nigeria After Boko Haram Kidnaps More Girls

Welcome to #theBrief, the four stories to know about right now--from the editors of TIME.

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Here are the stories TIME is watching Wednesday, May 7:

  • Barack Obama pledged American help for Nigeria after eight more girls were abducted by Boko Haram Tuesday in addition to the more than 200 already held captive. The U.S. will send military, law enforcement officials and hostage negotiators in an effort to return the girls to their families.
  • Few Tea Party challengers unseated their incumbent GOP rivals in Tuesday’s Republican primaries in North Carolina, Ohio, and India.
  • Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is getting ready to go public in the U.S. in what could be the biggest tech IPO in history.
  • Kevin Durant was named NBA MVP after having a stellar statistical season and leading his Oklahoma Thunder to the playoffs.

The Brief is published daily.

TIME 2014 elections

Clay Aiken Holds Slim Lead in North Carolina Democratic Primary

Clay Aiken
Clay Aiken speaks to supporters during an election night watch party in Holly Springs, N.C., Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Gerry Broome—AP

The American Idol runner-up is ahead by just 372 votes, with all precincts reporting, but the race has still not been called

Former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken was ahead in the North Carolina Democratic congressional primary by a slim margin Wednesday morning. The former singer led his opponent, former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco, by only 372 votes with all precincts reporting, making the race too close to call according to the Associated Press.

As things stand, Aiken has the 40 percent necessary to win, but has been unable to declare victory.

Aiken and Crisco both hold 40 percent on the vote. Whoever wins will face incumbent Republican U.S. Renee Ellmers in November. Ellmers won by a wide margin in 2010 when she was elected during the Tea Party wave.

[AP]

 

 

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