North Carolina coast survives hurricane
KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) — Proving far less damaging than feared, Hurricane Arthur left tens of thousands of people without power Friday in a swipe at North Carolina’s dangerously exposed Outer Banks, then brought lousy Fourth of July beach weather to the Northeast as it veered out to sea.
The weather along the narrow barrier islands — whose beaches draw hundreds of thousands of tourists every summer — had already cleared by Friday afternoon as Arthur scooted north and its outer bands scraped the Delaware and New Jersey shores. Forecasters predicted the storm would weaken before its center moves over western Nova Scotia in Canada early today.
While state and local officials worked to restore access to Hatteras Island and help those who had suffered storm and flooding damage, the effects of the hurricane were mostly confined to that part of the state. Farther south, the beaches were once again packed with people soaking up the sun.
“The North Carolina beaches are open for business and they’re open for tourists,” Gov. Pat McCrory said. “The umbrellas are going up as we speak right now.”
Arthur struck North Carolina as a Category 2 storm with winds of 100 mph late Thursday, taking about five hours to move across the far eastern part of the state.
At the height of the storm, more than 40,000 people lost power, and the rush of water from the ocean on one side and the sound on the other side buckled part of North Carolina Highway 12 in a spot on Hatteras Island that was breached in Hurricane Irene in 2011. Dozens of workers were heading to fix the highway, and the Department of Transportation said it was confident the road would reopen today as long as an underwater sonar test of a key bridge showed no problems.
No injuries or deaths were reported. After praising emergency officials and saying the state dodged a bullet, McCrory said he was heading to the beach himself for an Independence Day parade in Southport.
By Friday afternoon, the hurricane had weakened to a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds. Its center was about 170 miles south-southwest of Chatham, Massachusetts.
While the Northeast wasn’t expected to take a direct hit, the rain from Arthur’s outer bands was disrupting the holiday.
At 116, Ark. woman named oldest American
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A south Arkansas woman celebrated her 116th birthday Friday with cake, a party and a new title — she’s now officially the oldest confirmed living American and second-oldest person in the world, the Gerontology Research Group said.
Gertrude Weaver spent her birthday at home at Silver Oaks Health and Rehabilitation in Camden, about 100 miles southwest of Little Rock. This year’s festivities included the new award from the Gerontology Research Group, which analyzed U.S. Census records to determine that Weaver is the oldest living American, rather than 115-year-old Jeralean Talley, who was born in 1899.
The research group, which consults with the Guinness Book of World Records, found that the 1900 Census listed Weaver as 2 years old — putting her birthday in 1898, said Robert Young, the research group’s database administrator and senior consultant for Guinness.
That makes Weaver the second-oldest person in the world behind 116-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan and the 11th oldest person of all time, he said.
“Normally, 116 would be old enough to be the world’s oldest person,” Young said. “There’s kind of heavy competition at the moment.”
Weaver was born in southwest Arkansas near the border with Texas, and was married in 1915. She and her husband had four children, all of whom have died except for a 93-year-old son. Along with Census records, the Gerontology Research Group used Weaver’s 1915 marriage certificate, which listed her age as 17, to confirm her birth year, Young said.
Although no birth record exists for Weaver, she celebrates her birthday each year on July 4 and did the same this year. At her 115th birthday party last year, Weaver was “waving and just eating it all up,” said Vicki Vaughan, the marketing and admissions director at Silver Oaks.
“Most people want to know, ‘Well, can she talk?’” Vaughan said. “Her health is starting to decline a little bit this year — I can tell a difference from last year, but she still is up and gets out of the room and comes to all of her meals, comes to activities. She’ll laugh and smile and clap.”
Weaver first stayed at the Camden nursing home at the age of 104 after she suffered a broken hip, Vaughan said. But Weaver recovered after rehabilitation and moved back home with her granddaughter, before returning to the nursing home at the age of 109.
Weaver cited three factors for her longevity: “Trusting in the Lord, hard work and loving everybody.”
“You have to follow God. Don’t follow anyone else,” she told the Camden News this week. “Be obedient and follow the laws and don’t worry about anything. I’ve followed him for many, many years and I ain’t tired.”