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Sun. Headlines: Joaquin's Wind and Rain Blast Carolinas

Governor McCrory talks about storm damage
NC Governor's Office
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The Carolinas escaped the full brunt of Hurricane Joaquin this weekend, as the Category 4 storm turned northeast into the Atlantic. But the side effects of Joaquin are with us for at least another day, with heavy rain still soaking the region and high winds toppling trees and knocking out power to thousands of homes. At least five people have died this weekend on the East Coast in accidents related to the storm. 

Forecasters are warning that wind gusts topping 35 mph could knock down more trees and power lines across the Carolinas and Virginia.  Rainfall could total as much as a foot in some areas before the storm passes sometime Monday morning, especially along the upper Savannah River valley.

South Carolina officials were still urging people to stay off the roads, especially around Charleston, where some routes remained closed Sunday morning because of flooding. In North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory says the storm’s biggest effect could be flooding and damage to the state’s agricultural sector.  

Southeastern North Carolina counties have been hit hard, as were some areas southwest of Asheville, where rain and flooding have been trouble.  All of South Carolina and 12 counties in North Carolina have declared states of emergency.  And more flooding and damage are possible as rain and high winds continue today.

North Carolina activated 63 National Guard soldiers and 20 vehicles to help with the storm response. State Department of Transportation crews are on duty to keep roads open.  Ocracoke at the Outer Banks was evacuated during the storm and the area remains restricted for tourists and visitors. 

Agriculture officials said some farmers have been harvesting crops early to limit their losses, but some damage has resulted from flooding and salty rains near the coast. The state was offering help to clear fields or corral livestock.

Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen says while the city usually deals with flooding for a couple of hours at a time, this situation could last days. Some cars were stranded in flood waters caused by rains and high tides Saturday, and emergency management officials this morning repeated a warning for people to stay off the roads until the situation improves.

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in South Carolina and ordered federal aid as flood warnings remained in effect for many parts of the East Coast through Sunday.

The weather has forced cancellation of all kinds of activities and services. Amtrak train service was suspended along the east Coast Saturday. Trains were expected to be operating again today.  Meanwhile, the opening weekend of the Carolina Renaissance Festival in Huntersville was postponed to next weekend, Oct. 10-11.

25 HURT AS SCHOOL CANOPY COLLAPSES

In an incident unrelated to the storm …. 25 people were injured in when a concrete canopy collapsed on a group of high school band students at a competition in Olin, north of Statesville.  Iredell County Emergency Medical Services confirmed the total after the collapse Saturday at North Iredell High School.  Initial reports said a box truck hit one of the canopy supports and the awning then fell on students below. At least one student was taken to a Winston-Salem hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries. Officials gave no further details.

WOMAN SHOT TO DEATH IN CHARLOTTE

Authorities are investigating after they say a woman was shot and killed at an apartment complex in west Charlotte. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says 23-year-old Alexia Mayfield died Friday night. Police say officers responded to a call at the Little Rock Apartments around 9:30 PM.

Police on Sunday charged 25-year-old Immanuel Felton of Charlotte with murder. He was being held at Mecklenburg County Jail, awaiting a court appearance Tuesday.

AIR CRASH KILLS 4 NEAR LAKE HARTWELL

Four people from Indiana died in a plane crash Friday in Walhalla, in northwestern South Carolina.  The men were flying from Warsaw, Indiana, to Clemson, South Carolina, to attend Saturday's Notre Dame-Clemson game.   The Oconee County Coroner identified the men who died Friday afternoon as: 71-year-old Charles D. Smith; his son, 44-year-old Scott A. Smith; 54-year-old Tony L. Elliott; and 51-year-old Scott D. Bibler.  Elliott was a former sprint car driver, while the elder Smith was a Warsaw councilman and former high school football coach. Bibler also used to coach high school football. Scott Smith was an attorney.  Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Berger said the wreckage of the Piper PA-32 was found near Lake Hartwell on the Georgia.

SPORTS

The Carolina Panthers are in Tampa today looking to go 4 and 0 on the season. Kickoff against the Buccaneers is at 1 o’clock.

And the big East coast storm has cut back the schedule for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series at Dover, Delaware.  Qualifying was rained out, so NASCAR assigned starting positions for today’s Triple-A 400 according to the series owner points standings. Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs racing in Huntersville has the pole for the race, which is supposed to start at 2:30.