44 dead as Florence-weary Carolinas face more flooding and rising rivers

44 dead as Florence-weary Carolinas face more flooding and rising rivers

(CNN) - After an agonizing week of ravaging floodwaters, rising rivers, power outages and dozens of deaths, the Florence-weary Carolinas are facing the possibility of more flooding over the weekend. ... Continue Reading
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Flooding is sending unheard amounts of water through the Carolinas

Flooding is sending unheard amounts of water through the Carolinas

(CNN) - Jim Fraboni is preparing for the worst as an "unheard" amount of floodwater from Hurricane Florence is slowly flowing through the Carolinas.

He and his wife have seen floodwater rush in and damage his home for 22 years -- but this time feels different. They've been moving many of their belongings to the attic, hoping the water won't rise higher than their house in Horry County, South Carolina.

"This is going to be a lot worse," Fraboni told CNN affiliate WBTW.

A week after Hurricane Florence made landfall, the trillions of gallons of water it dumped over the Carolinas are slowly moving toward the sea and leaving a path of destruction behind. Residential streets have turned into rivers and freeways have morphed into waterways.

In North Carolina, flooded rivers have left thousands of evacuees still living in shelters and hundreds of roads underwater. The water has receded in some places but as it moves downstream, officials say, thousands of people could be in danger until next week.

"Flooding in North Carolina is sending unheard amounts of water into South Carolina along the Lynches, Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said in a letter requesting federal aid on Thursday.

"The damage in the northeastern part of our state will be catastrophic, surpassing anything recorded in modern history," he added.

In a Friday news conference, McMaster said the state's resources and personnel had shifted to the Pee Dee region.

"Because again, although the winds are gone and the rain's not falling, the water's still there and the worst is yet to come in the Pee Dee," he said.

McMaster estimates the storm recovery will cost about $1.2 billion, according to the letter he sent to the state's congressional delegation.

Death toll rises

Friday, the total death toll from Florence rose to 44 after two additional deaths were confirmed in Virginia, bringing the number of lives lost in that state to three, and North Carolina's governor said there was one more death in his state.

In Virginia, one person died in flooding and another died in a motor vehicle accident, according to Jeff Caldwell, spokesman for the Virginia Office of Emergency Management.

The office had previously reported one person was killed during a tornado that was part of the Florence storm system.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday there were 32 storm-related deaths statewide. The latest death was that of a 46-year-old man in Brunswick County who died when a tree he was cutting fell on him, the governor said.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety says the statewide death toll is nine. An 81-year-old man who was found dead inside a car in Dillon County after it was swept away by water, was among the victims in South Carolina, the department tweeted on Thursday.

Authorities are also investigating the deaths of two mental health patients in Horry County. The women, Windy Newton, 45, and Nicolette Green, 43, drowned Tuesday in a prison transport van when sheriff's deputies couldn't open the doors of the vehicle, authorities said.

McMaster said Friday he had "contacted or attempted to speak personally with the families of everyone who we lost during this crisis, this tragedy," including the families of Newton and Green.

He warned South Carolinians not to drive over roads covered with water.

"You can never tell what lies under that water," he said. "The road may be there, it may not be there. Don't drive across it and if there is a barricade up, do not go around that barricade."

Half of South Carolina under flood threat

Authorities have said 23 out of the 46 counties in South Carolina could potentially be impacted by flooding. For many residents in those areas it's not the first time they have been hit by a disaster.

Residents are still recovering from the 2015 catastrophic floods in the Carolinas as well as from the widespread damage of Hurricane Matthew in 2016

In Conway, South Carolina, authorities said residents could see damage in homes that have not flooded before.

"We are worried right now that the water is gonna come up 4 feet higher than Hurricane Matthew levels, which were an all-time record and that's going to be pretty devastating," City Administrator Adam Emrick said.

"They need to be prepared no matter how the skies are looking like, the floods are coming. We know it's coming," he said.

Water was rising quickly Friday in the Sherwood area of Conway, fire and rescue teams told CNN's Nick Valencia.

President Donald Trump visited the area earlier this week after floodwaters had receded a bit. Now they're coming back "at least 3 inches an hour," one fire and rescue worker told Valencia. "In some places we measured we saw the water rise a foot. It's rising fast."

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division said in a release Friday a number of rivers -- the Waccamaw, Lynches, Little Pee Dee and Big Pee Dee -- are forecast to crest east of Interstate 95 this weekend and early next week.

Residents were warned the confluence of the Big Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee rivers -- where they merge -- could reach flood levels even greater than those seen during Hurricane Matthew.

Environmental concerns persist

Officials continue to be worried about contamination and environmental hazards resulting from the storm, including the potential impact of coal ash, an industrial waste created by coal-burning power plants that can carry health risks.

Flooding from the Cape Fear River caused breaches in a dam at a cooling lake at Duke Energy's LV Sutton Plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Friday, prompting the company to shut down the natural gas plant, Duke Energy said in a statement.

"Water is now exiting the cooling lake through breaches -- one large and several smaller -- on the southern end of the impoundment," the statement said.

It noted there are two coal ash basins on the site, but said there was "no visible ash in the cooling lake." A landfill containing disposed ash from the site "has not been affected by the cooling lake and repairs from the hurricane are underway," it added.

An earlier statement from Duke Energy explained the LV Sutton coal power plant was retired in 2013, and today the plant operates as a natural gas plant.

Santee Cooper, a South Carolina electric utility, is installing inflatable dams around a coal ash pond at the former Grainger Generating Station in Conway as the Waccamaw River rises, the company said.

The dam will provide support to the dike around a pond "where most of the ash still onsite remains," Santee Cooper said in a statement Thursday.

The company noted it has been excavating the plant's ash ponds since 2014, and has removed about 90% of it.

"The National Guard is on standby if that's not big enough," Emrick said of the dam. "We want to make sure the coal ash doesn't get into the river."

A 1,000-year rain event -- really

North Carolina's governor called Florence a "1,000-year rain event" for the southeastern parts of the state, and analysis by the National Weather Service has confirmed it wasn't just a figure of speech.

The NWS tweeted that "3-day rainfall amounts exceeded the 0.1% probability event expected in given year" -- meaning, yes, the storm was actually a 1,000-year rain event.

As CNN meteorologist Tom Sater explained in 2015 (during another 1,000-year flooding event in South Carolina), this doesn't mean the last time this much rain fell on the area was 1,000 years ago, or that the next time will be 1,000 years from now.

A 1,000-year event actually means there was only a 1/1,000 chance that this much rain would fall over 3 days in a year.

Boy prays for floods to spare his school

A young boy turned to prayer when he learned that even more flooding is headed to the Carolinas.

Five-year-old Carter, who goes to kindergarten at Conway Elementary School, was wondering why he hasn't been to school for the past week.

His dad, Brad Whiteis, told him about Hurricane Florence and explained to Carter the possibility of flooding in the coming days.

When the boy heard that his school could get flooded, he asked his dad whether they could go to his school to pray for it not to flood.

"I wish my faith was always that strong," Whiteis wrote in a Facebook post about the photo.

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A 3-day-old and 2 other infants were stabbed at a New York day care center, police say

A 3-day-old and 2 other infants were stabbed at a New York day care center, police say

NEW YORK (CNN) - Three babies were among five people stabbed early Friday at an unlicensed day care center in New York by an employee who then tried to kill herself, officials said.

The victims -- two girls and a boy, plus two adults -- were in critical but stable condition Friday at local hospitals, New York police said.

The babies range in age from 3 days to 1 month, New York police Assistant Chief Juanita Holmes told reporters Friday.

The facility was used mostly by Chinese women who give birth and stay there before returning to China, a law enforcement source tells CNN.

Neighbors say it was frequented mostly by Chinese parents, but Koreans and Africans were also seen there.

Nine babies, along with some of their parents, had been in the center during the attack, Holmes said.

"There was one child with more serious injuries than the other two," Holmes said. "At one point, we thought she might have been likely (to die), but, thank God, she was upgraded."

The father of one injured child and a woman who works at the Queens day care were also attacked, according to police. The man was stabbed in the leg, and the woman was stabbed repeatedly in the torso, Holmes said.

The suspect, a 52-year-old woman employed at the center, was taken to a hospital after slashing her wrist, police said. She is in custody.

Two knives were recovered, police said.

The motive in the 3:45 a.m. attack was unclear, police spokesman Lt. Thomas Antonetti said.

The red brick, multifamily house on a tree-lined street in the Flushing area of Queens appeared to be used as a day care center, though state officials said it was not licensed.

"We have seen some paperwork indicating that it is a day care," Holmes said, adding the documents "indicated that they were a nursery."

Part of building served as "living quarters," she said.

But the site is not listed as the location of a licensed or regulated child care program with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, agency spokeswoman Monica Mahaffey said in a statement.

"OCFS is saddened by this horrific situation and investigating it as a possible illegal operation," she said.

State-regulated child care programs are prohibited from caring for infants younger than than 6 weeks old unless they receive prior approval from OCFS, the statement said.

"Any request must include physician medical approval and detail the extenuating circumstances necessitating such a request," the statement said.

The city's Buildings Department had received several complaints against the property, including the possibility that it was being illegally used as a hotel, records show. Department inspectors were unable to gain access to the home on several occasions.

The city had received a complaint in 2011 of "screaming children" at the residence, Holmes said, noting that the call came to a city hotline.

Of the children present during Friday's assault, five were girls and four were boys, she said.

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The investigation against a California surgeon now spans two decades, district attorney says

The investigation against a California surgeon now spans two decades, district attorney says

(CNN) - Prosecutors have expanded their investigation into alleged rape by a California surgeon and are looking into alleged crimes that could have occurred over the last 20 years, the Orange County district attorney said Friday.

In a news conference, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said prosecutors have received more than 50 calls about the case and have established more than 12 "credible potential victims" who have come forward with allegations against Grant Robicheaux, 38, and his girlfriend Cerissa Riley, 31.

Prosecutors have said the couple used their good looks and charm to drug and rape at least two women.

"As to Robicheaux, we are examining crimes that may have taken place from two decades ago to the present day," Rackauckas said, adding, "We're expanding our inquiry to several states, as well as to other parts of California."

Asked if the investigation could encompass Robicheaux's time in college and in medical school, Rackauckas said, "Yes."

At least one male has come forward as an alleged victim, according to prosecutors.

Rackauckas said the alleged crimes are not limited to Newport Beach, where at least one woman has said she met Riley and Robicheaux at a restaurant in April 2016, before becoming intoxicated and going back to Robicheaux's apartment, where she was allegedly drugged and raped by the couple, according to prosecutors.

It's also possible, Rackauckas said, that Robicheaux and Riley didn't just meet their "prey" in person, but that Robicheaux might have met some through dating apps like Tinder and Bumble.

"Ladies, please be careful when you meet people on these apps," Rackauckas said. "You do't know what is behind what appears to be a perfect smile."

Authorities continue to ask potential victims to come forward and share what they may know with prosecutors.

"No one gets a pass to have their way with you once you are unconscious or past the point of consent," Rackauckas said.

Suspects deny the accusations

Robicheaux and Riley been charged with rape by use of drugs, oral copulation by anesthesia or controlled substance, assault with intent to commit sexual offense, and possession of a controlled substance for sale. Robicheaux is also accused of firearms violations.

They each paid $100,000 bail last week when they were arrested. They will be arraigned on October 25.

Attorneys for Riley and Robicheaux have previously issued a joint statement denying the allegations.

"They have been aware of these accusations for a number of months, and each of them will formally deny the truth of these allegations at their first opportunity in court," the attorneys said of their clients.

"Dr. Robicheaux and Ms. Riley believe that such allegations do a disservice to, and dangerously undermine, the true victims of sexual assault, and they are eager to have the proper spotlight shed on this case in a public trial."

In 2014, Robicheaux appeared on an episode of Bravo's "Online Dating Rituals of the American Male."

How the alleged attacks unfolded

Investigators believe Riley approached the women at a bar or restaurant, then invited her boyfriend over, Rackauckas said Tuesday.

He said Riley and Robicheaux met one 32-year-old woman rackauckat a restaurant in Newport Beach in April 2016. On another occasion, they invited her to a party and took her back to his apartment once she was intoxicated, Rackauckas said.

Afterward, they drugged and raped the woman, the district attorney said. He said the incident was recorded on video.

Six months later, prosecutors say, another woman alleged the couple sexually assaulted her at the apartment after she got drunk at a bar with them.

Investigators found hundreds of clips of women in various states of consciousness on the surgeon's phone, Rackauckas said. Many of them appeared unable to consent to sexual contact, and many videos included Riley. He did not say whether the same women were seen in multiple clips.

"Based on this evidence, we believe that there might be many unidentified victims out there," he said.

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Woman who killed 3 people at Rite Aid center was a disgruntled worker

Woman who killed 3 people at Rite Aid center was a disgruntled worker

(CNN) - A woman who shot three people dead at a Rite Aid distribution center in Maryland was a disgruntled employee who had been working there for less than two weeks, authorities said.

Snochia Moseley, 26, opened fire Thursday at the facility near Aberdeen -- the second workplace rampage in the United States in 24 hours.

She killed three people and left three others wounded before turning the gun on herself, authorities said.

"There's just no way to make sense of something that's so senseless," Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler said Friday, adding that the motive remains unclear.

A source close to the investigation said Moseley was a disgruntled employee at the facility about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore.

She showed up to work at her normal time

Moseley showed up for work at the warehouse, where she was a temporary employee, at her normal time Thursday morning.

Gahler said she went home at one point and returned later with a handgun, pepper spray and a pair of handcuffs.

She began shooting during break time as some employees headed outside, Gahler said.

About 65 workers were in the warehouse at the time. the sheriff's office said.

Moseley opened fire outside the building and on the warehouse floor. The first victim was shot outside and five others inside the warehouse.

She then fatally shot herself in the head with the same 9 mm Glock pistol, Gahler said.

Witnesses told investigators that Mosely shot herself twice, with the first shot grazing her head, the sheriff said.

Gahler said Mosely had been diagnosed with a mental illness in 2016 and that her friends and family members reported that in recent weeks she had become "increasingly agitated and that they were concerned for her well-being."

Deputies were dispatched at 9:09 a.m., he said. Within five minutes, he said, deputies were at the scene, along with the FBI, state police, first responders and other law enforcement authorities.

"You can't have enough police, and you can't have them fast enough, Gahler said.

The sheriff's office identified the victims as Sunday Aguda, 45, from Baltimore County; Brindra Giri, 41, also from Baltimore County; and Hayleen Reyes, 41, of Baltimore.

The injured were identified as Hassan Mitchell, 19, of Harford County; Wilfredo Villegas, 45, of Montgomery County; and Acharya Purna, 45, from New York.

In a statement, Rite Aid said the distribution center has been closed and grief counselors were made available to employees.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in this tragic incident, as well as their loved ones."

Mother texted daughter when gunfire broke out

When the gunfire erupted, Alexie Scharmann got a series of text messages from her mother, who works at the facility.

"I love you ... more than you'll ever know," her mother said.

"There's a shooter in the building. I'm hiding. I love you," she texted, according to CNN affiliate WBAL. "Be good and take care of dad (and) the pets if something should happen."

Scharmann's mother survived and sent her the text message she had been hoping for at 10:33 a.m.

"I am outside and safe. I love you," it said.

Shooter was a former security guard

Gahler said Mosely once was a security officer but not at the Rite Aid distribution center. She had a Maryland handgun permit that expired in May.

She used a gun she purchased legally, Gahler said, adding that no law enforcement officers fired shots during their response.

Rite Aid spokeswoman Susan Henderson said roughly 1,000 employees work at the distribution center, where products are received and processed for delivery.

"The shooting happened adjacent to the primary building," she said.

Colleen Hendrickson, who lives and works in the area, was waiting for a bus when the shooting started.

"I, of course, thought it was far off or, that's like down the road or something, right?" she told CNN affiliate WJZ. "No, it's right outside. It's right on the doorstep."

She saw emergency vehicles, ambulances and helicopters rush to the scene.

"It's really just usually very calm, and this is the most chaotic I've ever seen it," she told the station.

Three shootings in two days

A day earlier, two other shootings made national news.

A co-worker injured three people when he opened fire Wednesday at an office complex in Middleton, Wisconsin. Later that day, a gunman wounded four people in Masontown, Pennsylvania.

Police killed the shooters in both cases Wednesday.

In Harford County, where Thursday's shooting happened, a man killed three people and wounded two others in October at a remodeling business where he worked. The gunman later drove to Wilmington, Delaware, where he shot and wounded a sixth victim.