NEW BERN DEVASTATED BY STORM SURGE FROM FLORENCE BACKING UP RIVERS: An ominous tweet appeared on a historic North Carolina community's Twitter feed about 2 a.m. Friday. It came as rivers swelled, tides crested and the rain wouldn't stop. And that's when people found themselves trapped in their homes as the water rose. "WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU," the tweet said. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU." The city of about 29,000, which was founded in the early 1700s and was briefly the state capital, is near the North Carolina coast and is bordered on the east and south, respectively, by two rivers. When Florence started battering eastern North Carolina with record rainfall, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell — and combined with high tide, made for dangerous flooding. Roberts, the city spokeswoman, said preliminary estimates show about 4,300 residences and 300 commercial buildings had been damaged. She said that count is expected to increase significantly.
HOT AIR WILL BLOW THROUGH NORTH CAROLINA NEXT WEEK: President Donald Trump is planning to visit areas affected by Hurricane Florence next week, though his exact plans are not yet finalized. “The president is expected to travel to areas affected by the storm early to middle of next week, once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts. We will keep you posted when we have details,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday. Hurricane Florence is bringing widespread flooding, heavy rains and strong winds to many coastal areas of North and South Carolina. The storm, which made landfall Friday morning as a Category 1, is expected to continue to soak the area throughout the weekend. In a note provided by the White House Friday night, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump called North Carolina officials to offer support.
YES, CLIMATE CHANGE DOES MAKE HURRICANES LIKE FLORENCE MORE DAMAGING: A warmer world makes for nastier hurricanes. Scientists say they are wetter, possess more energy and intensify faster. Their storm surges are more destructive because climate change has already made the seas rise. And lately, the storms seem to be stalling more often and thus dumping more rain. Study after study shows that climate change in general makes hurricanes worse. But determining the role of global warming in a specific storm such as Hurricane Florence or Typhoon Mangkhut is not so simple — at least not without detailed statistical and computer analyses. The Associated Press consulted with 17 meteorologists and scientists who study climate change, hurricanes or both. A few experts remain cautious about attributing global warming to a single event, but most of the scientists clearly see the hand of humans in Florence.
CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS LIKELY TO FIGHT EXTRA FUNDING FOR FLORENCE: Steve Ellis, vice president of the advocacy group Taxpayers for Common Sense, is already warning that Congress is about to write another lavish check when voters want fiscal restraint. “What’s going to happen is, you can’t separate politics from the reality, and here you’ve got an election coming up, see a lot of stories about people that are trying to get their lives back together, the damage in the area, and there’s going to be a lot of pressure to do something,” said Ellis, who would like lawmakers to exhaust current resources before authorizing more. On Friday morning, as the massive storm was making its way through the Carolinas, a senior aide with the House Republican Appropriations Committee told McClatchy that the Disaster Relief Fund — the official account used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to the most immediate recovery needs — contained $25.6 billion. “(This) is more than sufficient to meet current and ongoing needs,” the aide said. But at a separate press conference Friday on Capitol Hill, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California didn’t hesitate to declare this sum insufficient for likely long term rebuilding efforts.
TRUMP-BACKED MILITARY INVASION OF VENEZUELA MORE THAN IDLE THREAT: The head of the Organization of American States has joined President Donald Trump in holding out the threat of a military intervention in Venezuela to restore democracy and ease the country*s humanitarian crisis. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro delivered the sharp warning in a visit Friday to Colombia's border with Venezuela in which he also denounced President Nicolas Maduro*s socialist "dictatorship" for spurring a region-wide migration crisis. "With respect to a military intervention to overthrow Nicolas Maduro's regime, I don't think any option should be ruled out," Almagro said at a press conference in the Colombian city of Cucuta. "What Nicolas Maduro's regime is perpetrating are crimes against humanity, the violation of the human rights and the suffering of people that is inducing an exodus. Diplomatic actions should be the first priority but we shouldn't rule out any action." For Almagro, the threat of military force is especially surprising given his condemnation of the region's support for a U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 to remove a democratically-elected but pro-Cuban president.