Gotta Watch: Surviving the storm
April 18th, 2011
10:31 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Surviving the storm

Fast-moving storms ripped through the Southeast over the weekend, spawning tornadoes that flattened parts of North Carolina. The storm killed at least 45 people in six states, including Virginia, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.

In today's Gotta Watch, we're looking at the aftermath of the devastating weather system that crippled the region.

Inside the storm – Get an inside look of the storm that killed 22 people in North Carolina and leveled parts of that state. The damage was so severe, it nearly wiped out an entire rural town.
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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Mississippi • North Carolina • Tornadoes • Weather
Life and death in path of tornadoes
A series of storms left houses damaged in the Tarawa Terrace II area of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
April 18th, 2011
09:20 AM ET

Life and death in path of tornadoes

Police in Sanford, North Carolina, are crediting the manager of a Lowe's Home Improvement store and his staff with saving the lives of dozens of people when a tornado struck Saturday afternoon.

Manager Michael Hollowell looked out the front of the store and saw the tornado approaching, CNN affiliate WRAL-TV reported. He alerted his assistants via in-store phones, and they helped get about 50 employees and as many as 60 customers to the back of the building, where walls of concrete joined to provide strength and there was no high shelving with heavy items. The dozens of people huddled shoulder to shoulder to escape the storm's fury.

"One person didn't save all those lives," WRAL quoted Hollowell as saying. "It was a team effort."

Storms that swept across the South over the weekend killed 45 people, including 22 in North Carolina, authorities said.

Among the dead were three children in one trailer home at the Stony Brook North mobile home park in Raleigh.


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Filed under: North Carolina • Tornadoes • Weather
Storms tear through Southeastern U.S.
Workers at Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club clean up storm debris Tuesday before a Masters tournament practice round.
April 5th, 2011
12:53 PM ET

Storms tear through Southeastern U.S.

Northern Georgia took a beating from a fast-moving line of severe thunderstorms, as did the rest of the Southeast. Seven deaths were reported in three states. Here are reports from CNN affiliates and iReporters:

A father and his 3-year-old son were killed in Butts County, Georgia, southeast of Atlanta, when the storm hurled a tree into their home, WSB-TV reported.

Atlanta police said they found one person dead in a vehicle crushed by a fallen tree in northwest Atlanta, according to WXIA-TV.

Fallen trees and limbs were strewn across much of northern Georgia. Many of them fell on power lines, causing widespread power outages, WSB-TV reported.

Power was knocked out for more than 200,000 Georgia customers, 77,000 of them in metro Atlanta, according to WGCL-TV, which also reported a weather-related death in Dodge County and another in Colquitt County.

In southern Georgia, iReporter Rick Pennock of Quitman said, "The lightning was so intense it was like a red carpet event."


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Filed under: Arkansas • Georgia • Kentucky • Mississippi • North Carolina • South Carolina • Tornadoes • Weather
Military families who left Japan can get thousands of dollars in monthly expenses
Military families from Japan arrive at Travis Air Force Base in California last week.
April 1st, 2011
07:45 AM ET

Military families who left Japan can get thousands of dollars in monthly expenses

Families of U.S. service members in Japan who voluntarily left the country after the March 11 quake are entitled to as much $21,225 in living expenses for their first month back in the United States, according to Defense Department documents and officials.

That amount, based on one adult, one teenager and one child under 12 who chose to evacuate to Honolulu, decreases to about $11,000 in months two through six the family spends in a "safe haven," the place the family has chosen to spend their time away from Japan. Military families were given their choice of destinations in the continental United States, according Eileen M. Lainez of the Defense Press Office in Washington, but evacuation to Hawaii and Alaska was considered on a case-by-case basis. Civilian dependents were given their choice of destinations in the 50 states.

The amount varies by location and cost of living and could be considerably less. While the family could get $21,225 the first month for staying in Oahu, Hawaii, and almost $15,675 if it went to Santa Barbara, California, it would be authorized $9,225 for North Dakota or rural areas of North Carolina, for example, according to Defense Department figures.


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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • California • Earthquake • Hawaii • Japan • Military • Natural Disasters • North Carolina • North Dakota • Tsunami • World
Sources: Hole in US Airways jet caused by bullet
This US Airways 737 was grounded in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday after a small hole was found in its fuselage.
March 29th, 2011
04:24 PM ET

Sources: Hole in US Airways jet caused by bullet

A hole in a US Airways jet that landed in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday was caused by a bullet, two government sources tell CNN.

The sources say a bullet has been recovered inside the Boeing 737-400.

The aircraft had flown to Charlotte from Philadelphia and was being prepped for another flight on Monday when the pilot discovered the hole above a passenger window toward the back of the plane, according to airline officials. The airline pulled the plane from service and called in the FBI.

"We do not believe it's terrorism related," said one of the government sources. "It appears to be a random event. We do not believe the plane was targeted."

One source told CNN that officials believe the bullet was fired in Charlotte after passengers had exited the aircraft.

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Filed under: Air travel • North Carolina • Travel
50 people in 50 days: Teen vanished while visiting sister
Phylicia Barnes of North Carolina disappeared last month in Baltimore, Maryland.
January 31st, 2011
03:19 PM ET

50 people in 50 days: Teen vanished while visiting sister

Editor's note: Nancy Grace's new show on HLN, "Nancy Grace: America's Missing," is dedicated to finding 50 people in 50 days. As part of the effort, which relies heavily on audience participation,'s news blog This Just In will feature the stories of the missing.

This was the 10th case, and it aired Friday night on HLN.

Phylicia Barnes, a 17-year-old honors student from Charlotte, North Carolina, disappeared in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 28 while visiting her sister. She told an acquaintance that she was hungry and might have left her sister's apartment to get something to eat. Barnes' coat and purse were gone, but her credit card was left behind.

Police are focusing on a dozen people who saw the teenager shortly before she vanished. No one has been identified as a suspect or person of interest in the case.

Acclaimed author Reynolds Price dies
Southern writer Reynolds Price was the recipient of numerous literary awards.
January 21st, 2011
01:25 PM ET

Acclaimed author Reynolds Price dies

Reynolds Price, a renowned Southern writer and a professor at Duke University for more than 50 years, has died.

Price died of cancer Thursday at age 77, the university announced.

"With a poet's deep appreciation for language, Reynolds Price taught generations of students to understand and love literature," Duke President Richard H. Brodhead said in a statement on the university's website.

"Reynolds was a part of the soul of Duke; he loved this university and always wanted to make it better. We can scarcely imagine Duke without Reynolds Price."

Price's 1962 book "A Long and Happy Life" received the William Faulkner Award for a notable first novel. His novel "Kate Vaiden" received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986.


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Filed under: Art • Literature • North Carolina • Obituary
Family of ill young fan to sell house, move to stay close to team
Zach Bennett is a small boy but a big fan of the Charlotte Checkers hockey team.
January 21st, 2011
10:07 AM ET

Family of ill young fan to sell house, move to stay close to team

Zach Bennett is 11 years old, and he's wild about ice hockey.

He and his family were season ticket holders for the minor-league Albany (New York) River Rats - until the team moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, last spring and changed their name to the Checkers.

Over the years, players and officials with the team had gotten to be friends with Zach, who has had numerous surgeries, including the amputation of both legs, to treat neurofibromatosis.

Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder that causes debilitating tumors to grow on nerve tissue, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is incurable.

The separation from the team has been hard on Zach, whom players call Bug, but things are about to change.

Zach's parents, Randy and Danielle Bennett, have decided to sell their house in Albany and move to Charlotte, CNN affiliate WCNC-TV reports, and the team is helping them do it.

"We were contemplating it back and forth, and when the team said they were sold and they were headed down to Charlotte, that was kind of a no-brainer for us," Randy Bennett told WCNC.

Last week the Checkers flew the family to Charlotte, where team mascot Chubby met them at the airport. Zach and his sister Jenna ceremonially dropped the puck to start the team's annual Race Night charity game and sweater auction, which raised $20,000 to cover the family's moving expenses, according to the Checkers' website.

The planned move isn't only for hockey, of course.

For one thing, the family expects to be closer to medical facilities. They now drive about two hours to Springfield, Massachusetts, for Zach's appointments, according to the Albany Times-Union newspaper.

The weather will be easier to take, too.

"We hate the winter," Randy Bennett told the Times-Union. "How did we become a hockey family?"

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Filed under: Health • Hockey • New York • North Carolina • Sports
Schools' plans for MLK holiday prompt objections
Kids got to play in the snow this week in Charlotte, North Carolina, but it's back to school on Monday, holiday or no holiday.
January 14th, 2011
04:58 PM ET

Schools' plans for MLK holiday prompt objections

Some school districts in the South are making up for  days missed because of this week's snow and ice by requiring students to attend class on Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, a decision that does not sit well with some parents and community leaders.

The issue is especially sensitive in King's home state of Georgia, where administrators in two rural districts  - Fannin and Gilmer counties - have canceled the school holiday.

"We have eight days that we've missed, and we're just in the 14th day of January," Fannin Superintendent Mark Henson said. "Here in the North Georgia mountains, history proves we have a lot of snow in January and February and sometimes into early March."

Both districts are considering canceling Presidents Day (February 21) and part or all of spring break as well, the administrators said.


Winter storm cripples South, heads north to deliver more misery
A postman braves a snowy path to try and deliver mail in Charlotte, North Carolina.
January 11th, 2011
10:57 AM ET

Winter storm cripples South, heads north to deliver more misery

A winter storm that paralyzed the South churned up the Atlantic coast Tuesday, destined to merge with another system from the Midwest and spell more misery for the Northeast.

The National Weather Service predicted 5 to 8 inches of snow in the Philadelphia area, 4 inches or more in northern New Jersey and 2 to 6 inches in southern Delaware from Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning.

It will be all snow as well for the 1-95 corridor Tuesday night and Wednesday, with 8 to 14 inches predicted for the New York City area and 9 to 15 inches for Boston.

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Filed under: Air travel • Alabama • Delaware • Georgia • Louisiana • New York • North Carolina • Pennsylvania • South Carolina • Travel • Weather • Winter weather
Rapid snowfall blankets southeast; icy conditions expected
Cars have problems navigating Atlanta roads on Monday after a winter storm left the city covered in snow and ice, with little resources to clean it up.
January 10th, 2011
10:36 AM ET

Rapid snowfall blankets southeast; icy conditions expected

Treacherous travel conditions, power outages and school cancellations stretched across the Southeast as freezing rain and sleet followed on the heels of a heavy snow that blanketed the region over the weekend.

Schools and government offices shut their doors from Arkansas to the Carolinas, while power utilities mobilized crews for widespread power outages. CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said below-freezing temperatures are expected through Tuesday, and continued precipitation will leave a heavy coating of ice on power lines and trees, which could cause outages.

The power company Entergy reported about 4,000 people without power in Mississippi. About 200 people in north Georgia were still without electricity after snow sent tree limbs into power lines, according to Georgia Electric Membership Corp.

Winter storm warnings were in effect Monday for parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas, and parts of southern Alabama were under an ice storm warning.

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Filed under: Alabama • Arkansas • Georgia • North Carolina • South Carolina • Tennessee • Weather • Winter weather
More than 1,200 at Edwards funeral; protest fizzles
December 11th, 2010
02:03 PM ET

More than 1,200 at Edwards funeral; protest fizzles

More than 1,200 mourners, including hundreds who loved and admired Elizabeth Edwards from a distance, packed a Raleigh church Saturday to pay respects to the activist and estranged wife of a failed aspirant to the presidency.

The mourners included Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who in 2004 picked Edwards' husband, John, to be his vice presidential running mate in an unsuccessful bid for the White House. John and Elizabeth Edwards separated earlier this year after the former North Carolina senator admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock while the couple was married.

John Edwards entered the church just prior to the start of the 1 p.m. service, holding hands with the Edwards' three children, Jack, Emma and Cate.

The funeral opened with a eulogy from Elizabeth Edwards' longtime friend Hargrave McElroy, who made the audience laugh with tales of Elizabeth's competitive nature, particularly with games. She also noted Edwards' love of Christmas, describing how the Edwards family, including John Edwards, decorated their Christmas tree last Saturday, just three days before she died after a long battle with breast cancer at the age of 61.

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Filed under: North Carolina
November 22nd, 2010
10:44 AM ET

On the Radar: Pat downs, gas prices and L.A. stories

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Travel trouble - This week is brought to you by the letter T - which stands for turkey, travel and TSA. Backlash against the Transportation Security Administration's pat-downs is swelling as millions get ready to travel for the holiday. Some of the criticism: A North Carolina cancer survivor recalls having to show a screener her prosthetic breast. There's video on the Web of a screener patting down what appears to be a shirtless child while his frustrated father looks on.

While Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida, ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, insists the system must change, the TSA chief John Pistole says pat-downs are necessary to stop weapon-smuggling terrorists. One reporter traveled more than 5,000 miles to see the situation from airport officials' point of view. And it wasn't pretty.

Gas prices up - If news about airport hassles makes you want to drive, know that there's hassle in that option, too.  Gas prices are about 23 cents higher than this time last year, clocking a national average of $2.87 per gallon for self-serve unleaded gas, says publisher Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey.


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Filed under: California • Florida • Justice • Justin Bieber • North Carolina • On the Radar • Ronni Chasen • Showbiz • Terrorism
November 17th, 2010
11:45 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Athlete Marion Jones' book gives her version of her drug scandal and time in prison.

Marion Jones

The American track star won three gold and two bronze medals at the 2000 Olympics in Sidney, Australia, but relinquished them when news emerged that she had used performance-enhancing drugs.

Jones spent six months in federal prison for lying to investigators. She now plays guard for the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA and recently released "On the Right Track," in which she gives her version of events and describes her time in prison.

Filmmaker John Singleton has made a documentary about Jones titled "Press Pause," airing on ESPN.

The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog says it had a hard time getting a straight answer out of Jones when it pressed her on whether she knew she was taking performance-enhancing drugs. FULL POST

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Filed under: Air travel • Europe • Ireland • Justice • Most Intriguing People • Nancy Pelosi • North Carolina • Politics
November 3rd, 2010
07:44 PM ET

Bone found in search for missing North Carolina girl

Search teams have discovered a bone that may be related to the disappearance of 10-year-old Zahra Baker, police in North Carolina said Wednesday.

The bone will be sent to the medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill for further examination, the Hickory Police Department said.

In the past week, the Hickory Police Department said it has recovered key pieces of evidence in the search for the 10-year-old cancer survivor, who was reported missing by her stepmother on October 9.


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Filed under: Crime • Justice • Missing Children • North Carolina
November 2nd, 2010
08:47 PM ET

Democrats take Senate seats in West Virginia, Connecticut

West Virginia Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin has won his state's Senate seat, CNN projects, beating out Republican nominee John Raese in a tight race for the late Sen. Robert Byrd's seat. Projections are based on CNN analysis of exit poll data.

Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal has won the state Senate seat left open by retiring Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, CNN projects, beating out Republican nominee Linda McMahon, a wealthy former professional wrestling executive.


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Filed under: Arkansas • Connecticut • Elections • Florida • New Hampshire • North Carolina • Politics • West Virginia
October 27th, 2010
04:50 PM ET

Prosthetic leg believed to belong to missing N.C. girl

Investigators have found a prosthetic leg that they believe belonged to missing North Carolina girl Zahra Baker, Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins said Wednesday.


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Filed under: Crime • Missing Children • North Carolina
October 25th, 2010
10:04 PM ET

Stepmother joins police on search for missing N.C. girl

The stepmother of a missing 10-year-old North Carolina girl joined police as they searched for the girl's body Monday, the same day the girl's father landed behind bars.

Elisa Baker, who police said last week admitted to writing a fake ransom note a day after the girl's disappearance was reported, was taken by police to a search site near a home she lived in three years ago, according to CNN affiliate WSOC.

Earlier on Monday, shortly after 3 a.m., Adam Troy Baker was arrested in Catawba County on eight charges, including five counts of submitting worthless checks and three counts of failing to appear in court.


Filed under: Missing Children • North Carolina
October 19th, 2010
09:32 AM ET

Police getting medical records of missing girl

North Carolina authorities have been in contact with Zahra Baker's biological mother in Australia and have asked for the medical records of the missing 10-year-old girl.

"We're in the process of getting medical information from Australia, and we're in the process of getting medical records here," said Clyde Deal, the deputy police chief of Hickory on Monday.

Officials did not specify what kind of medical records they were seeking. Dental records are sometimes used to identify a body. Although authorities believe Zahra is dead, her remains have not been found.


Filed under: Crime • Justice • North Carolina • U.S.
October 13th, 2010
11:08 AM ET

Search to resume for missing N.C. girl; stepmom in court

After a brief break, authorities planned to resume searching Wednesday for a 10-year-old North Carolina girl as her stepmother appeared in court on an obstruction of justice charge related to the case.

Zahra Clare Baker was reported missing over the weekend, but authorities believe she could have disappeared a month ago.

The search lasted until about 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to CNN affiliate WSOC, and authorities plan to continue searching the same area after taking a break for a few hours.


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Filed under: Crime • North Carolina
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