Friday News: Desperate measures


WAKE COUNTY PROGRAM SEEKS TO PREVENT HOMELESSNESS: The cost to live in Wake County is going up even as the county expects to shed 900 affordable housing units a year. That means residents who would not have imagined themselves homeless are finding themselves on the verge of not having a roof over their head. That's partly why Wake County city officials have created a new program, known as Wake Prevent, to help catch those at risk of losing their home. The program offers rental assistance and case management to help people stabilize their finances. It is offered to families below a certain income threshold who are less than a month from becoming homeless. Officials with the program say rent costs are up 35 percent in Wake County, but wages are not rising at the same level.

OCRACOKE HAS BARELY BEGUN TO REBUILD AFTER DORIAN CATASTROPHE: Islanders had much to grieve. At least 410 homes and other structures were damaged by the rushing waters of the Pamlico Sound that Hurricane Dorian swept across the island on its way up the coast. Tom Pahl, who represents the island on the Hyde County Board of Commissioners, said dozens of property owners are expected to demolish their homes and rebuild rather than try to repair. Many of those that will come down are the older homes on the island, he said, some of which date to the 1800s. ahl, a general contractor and native New Englander who has lived on the island for 15 years, is as frustrated as any of his neighbors that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has said it will not provide financial aid to individual property owners on Ocracoke. FEMA will help only through its public assistance program that pays for such things as infrastructure repair and debris removal. The latter is a constant process, with oversized dump trucks constantly coming and going. Residents and business owners pile their warped floorboards and broken windows and doors curbside. Cars that were caught in the flood, then rolled or crushed against buildings or trees, have been set bumper-to-bent-bumper along Irvin Garrish Highway, awaiting removal.

FIRES CONTINUE AFTER MASSIVE EXPLOSIONS AT TEXAS CHEMICAL PLANT: More than 50,000 people in East Texas remained under a mandatory evacuation order Thursday as a fire continued to burn at a chemical plant, one day after two massive explosions there. Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens said the evacuation order and a 10 p.m. curfew order remain in effect. Officials don’t know when people will be able to return to their homes. “It’s Thanksgiving, a lot of people are displaced, they can’t go home,” Stephens told TV station KFDM Thursday, explaining the danger of further explosions and fire rather than air quality problems is the reason the evacuation order remains in place. The Wednesday blasts, 13 hours apart, blew out windows and doors of nearby homes and prompted a mandatory evacuation of a 4-mile (7-kilometer) radius from the plant in Port Neches in Southeast Texas, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) east of Houston.

TRUMP TELLS TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN A DEAL WITH THE TALIBAN IS IMMINENT: Making an unannounced trip, Trump touched down at 8:30 p.m. local time at Bagram air base — the primary hub for U.S. air operations located outside the capital of Kabul — after secretly departing Florida in the dark of night. Trump has long wanted to draw down forces in Afghanistan; he said during a meeting here with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that he had restarted peace talks with the Taliban that he had broken off almost three months ago and was hopeful of brokering an accord. “The Taliban wants to make a deal and we’re meeting with them and we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire and they didn’t want to do a cease-fire, and now they do want to do a cease-fire,” Trump said. “I believe it’ll probably work out that way.” Addressing about 1,500 military personnel assembled in an aircraft hangar here, Trump said, “We are winning like we haven’t won in a long time.” He told the crowd he wanted a military victory in Afghanistan, and “we don’t play for ties,” but explained success would not be achieved on the battlefield but rather through “a political solution” determined by people in the region.

SIEGE OF HONG KONG UNIVERSITY ENDS, PROTESTERS EVADED POLICE: The police returned control of Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s campus to school officials on Friday, bringing to an end one of the most intense periods of conflict since protests began to engulf the city earlier this year. The police, who arrested hundreds of people during their two-week siege of the campus, said they found no protesters there during a final search on Friday morning. Investigators found nearly 4,000 firebombs on the campus over the past two days, as well as other explosive items and bottles of corrosive liquids, the police said. The siege, which was punctuated by days of clashes between the police and protesters, ended quietly as university officials resumed control of the shattered campus on the southeastern side of the Kowloon Peninsula. The protests began in June over legislation, since withdrawn, that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China. It has continued over other issues, including calls for expanded elections and an investigation into the police’s use of force.