National news briefs: 9/15/2013

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Colo. bracing for more rain

BOULDER, Colo. -- More rain was expected this weekend in a flood-ravaged area of Colorado where at least four people have died, at least 80 more remain unaccounted for, and people were being evacuated from mountain towns that have been isolated by raging torrents of water.

The downpour in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains wasn't expected to be as heavy as in the past week, but flash-flooding was still a concern given the ground saturation and high creek water levels, the National Weather Service said.

The National Guard began evacuating residents from Lyons, 17 miles north of Boulder, the report said. Impassable roads leading to Jamestown also forced authorities to use a helicopter to evacuate 200 residents from the town northwest of Boulder.

Report calls for oversight

WASHINGTON -- Toll-bridge agencies that span state boundaries operate with little federal oversight and little accountability to their tollpayers, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report released Friday.

"The authorities could benefit from greater transparency in public involvement and clearer lines of external oversight," the GAO report said.

It said a federal requirement that bridge tolls be "just and reasonable" has little teeth because no federal agency has authority to enforce it. Congress repealed the authority in 1987, but kept the mandate.

The GAO examined four bistate tolling authorities: the DRPA; the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; the Delaware River and Bay Authority; and the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.

Gov. rallies fire victims

SEASIDE PARK, N.J. -- Gov. Chris Christie, who garnered national attention one year ago as he raced up and down the Jersey Shore visiting areas ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, reprised that role Saturday -- but this time it was just two communities that were left reeling.

Mr. Christie spoke with dozens of people who lost their businesses in a devastating fire two days ago along a famous stretch of Boardwalk in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, pledging full support of the state to help them rebuild.

Even as Mr. Christie met with residents, small hot spots continued, including a minor flare-up before dawn Saturday that firefighters had to put down.

Bacteria closes oyster beds

BOSTON -- The recent closures of Massachusetts oyster beds due to bacterial contamination have caused angst in the state's small but growing oyster industry.

The culprit is the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacterium, which has occurred in Massachusetts waters since the 1960s. Why it's become a problem now, though, is a mystery.

Average monthly daytime water temperatures in the region rarely approach the 81 degrees believed to be the threshold that triggers dangerous Vibrio growth.

Veterans finish Warrior Hike

MILLINOCKET, Maine -- After six months, four U.S. military veterans have completed their hike of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, ending with a celebration at the summit of Mount Katahdin.

The 2,185-mile Warrior Hike gives veterans a chance to process their wartime experiences and to help them transition from military to civilian life.

Fourteen started the hike in Georgia; four finished and two others who left the trail returned on Friday for the final hike and celebration.



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