Hurricane Irma damage: What to do before, during and after a flood

Published: Monday, September 11, 2017 @ 1:17 PM

Irma Aftermath In Florida

Emergency management  officials are quick to remind those living in coastal areas that it’s the water that a hurricane brings that is the biggest threat to lives and property.

According to the National Hurricane Center, storm surge, or the wall or water a hurricane pushes on land as it moves onshore, has accounted for about half of the deaths in hurricanes since 1970.

The danger of storm surge is so great that in 2017, the NHC changed its warning system to include a separate warning for surge alone. 

While you can do very little once the surge is at hand, there are some things you can do to stay safe from the flood waters it brings.

From the Federal Emergency Management Agency, here are tips for keeping safe during and after a flood.

Before a flood 
• If a flood is likely in your area, listen to the radio or television for information.
• Know the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning. A watch means flooding is possible. A warning means flooding is occurring or will occur soon.

When a flood is imminent
• Be prepared! Pack a bag with important items in case you need to evacuate. Don't forget to include needed medications.
• If advised to evacuate your home, do so immediately.
• If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.
• If possible, bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to an upper floor.
• Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances.

Larry Donnerstaf, center, is helped back to his home at Naples Estates trailer park in East Naples, Fla., on Sept. 11, 2017.

During a flood
• Do not walk through moving water. As little as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of moving water can make you fall.
• If you have to walk in water, wherever possible, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
• Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.
• Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

After a flood
• Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
• Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
• Avoid moving water.
• Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
• Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
• Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
• Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
• Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
• Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.

Source: U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency

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FBI investigated Jeff Sessions for possible perjury: reports

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 11:03 AM

What You Need To Know: Jeff Sessions

The FBI investigated U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for possible perjury last year amid allegations that he misled lawmakers about his contacts with Russians ahead of the 2016 presidential election, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The investigation into Sessions started before the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is tasked with probing Russian efforts to meddle in the election and possible ties to President Donald Trump and his campaign officials, Sessions’s lawyer, Chuck Cooper, told The New York Times. The investigation into Sessions has since been closed, Cooper said.

>> Related: Who is Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General?

“The special counsel’s office has informed me that after interviewing the attorney general and conducting additional investigation, the attorney general is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and related written submissions to Congress,” Cooper told the Times in a statement.

Sessions told lawmakers during his January 2017 confirmation hearing that he had no communications with Russians during Trump’s campaign for the White House, but he faced criticism after it was reported by The Washington Post that Sessions met twice with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

>> Related: Democrats call for Sessions' resignation over meetings with Russian ambassador

Sessions claimed he didn’t remember meeting with Kislyak, according to Bloomberg News. He emphasized in a statement released after the Post’s report that he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.”

Unidentified sources told multiple media outlets, including the Times, Bloomberg and ABC News, that Sessions was unaware of the investigation when he announced the decision Friday to fire FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

>> Related: Why was Andrew McCabe fired? What we know now

McCabe authorized and oversaw the federal criminal investigation into Sessions, according to ABC News. The news network was the first to report Wednesday on the investigation.

The FBI frequently launches perjury investigations based on congressional referrals, according to the Times, though it’s rare for such investigations to lead to charges.

>> Related: Sessions interviewed by Mueller team as part of Russia probe, report says

Mueller’s team interviewed Sessions in January. Cooper told the Times that officials with the special counsel’s office have since told him that the attorney general was considered a witness in the case.

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Couple, 80, 92 prove it's never too late to fall in love

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 10:57 AM

Senior Couple Proves It's Never Too Late To Find Love

 Renee Weiss and Miles Miller met last October at a speed dating event at Somerby Sandy Springs, a retirement community, and immediately clicked.

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The event, the first of its kind at Somerby Sandy Springs, brought together 10 men and 10 women ranging in age from 75 and 96. Weiss and Miller, who live independently nearby (she lives in Alpharetta; he lives in East Cobb) heard about the event and were encouraged by friends and family to participate.

She’s 80. He’s 92.

At the event, men and women were paired up for only four minutes before the sound of a whistle signaled it was time to move spots and meet another potential love interest.

For Weiss and Miller, four minutes with each other was enough time for a love connection. They have been together ever since, recently returning from a cruise. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently interviewed the lovebirds, who prove it’s never too late to fall in love. The interview has been edited for length.

Q: Tell the story how you met.

Weiss: I was sitting at table No. 3 and it was his turn to come to Table 3. We talked. And you had a little piece of paper in front of you, and if you said you sort of liked a guy and he liked you, you put a mark there. And at the end, we both liked each other. Then he called and we went to dinner. We went to dinner and he kept calling and I kept going out with him … . We just came together so easily and enjoyed each other’s company and we liked the same things.

He loves nice restaurants and I love to go to nice restaurants. We laugh and we kid around. He is (a) pleasure to be with and he is very smart.

Miller: I left my name and address. I called and she called … . We finally got together and it has been fun ever since. It’s been real nice. She’s the best. We just got back from a cruise seven days, went to the west Caribbean and had a great time.

Q: Talk about your relationship. You two seem to kid around a lot. Is this different than other relationships? You two seem like two teenagers in love and I mean that the best way possible.

Weiss: I was married (for) 56 years to one man and he passed away five years ago, and I didn’t date, didn’t have anybody else. The first time I went to this meet-and-greet thing, it just clicked. It felt like [Miles and I] knew each other forever and everything we do is fun. We go to restaurants; everybody loves us wherever we go. They always say we are (an) awesome couple.

When I make a reservation, I usually go to Open Tables to make the reservation. They have a little spot for a comment and I always put down a little thing saying, “two seniors in love.” That seems to get their attention. We went to one restaurant, this waitress was so great.

Miller: She sat down with us and took photos. And desserts free, coffee free, appetizers, Champagne free.

Q: What does it feel like to find each other right now at this moment in your life?

Miller: The interaction between us, doing thing together instead of staying home staying sorry for ourselves and so forth. To get out and do something, and plan ahead. If you don’t plan ahead, you are not living.

You get old, and you can sit and die, or you can get out and do things and if you get do things and are happy, and you can make other people happy. Making other people happy makes us happy.

Weiss: We can go just go and feed ducks, or go to a movie or we go on a walk … . What we do is not crazy. We just have fun and we enjoy each other and we look forward to seeing each other and we talk on the phone at least twice a day.

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Charity sues after high bidder fails to pay for Trump portraits

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 10:29 AM

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20:  President Donald Trump holds a law enforcement roundtable on sanctuary cities, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: President Donald Trump holds a law enforcement roundtable on sanctuary cities, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

When a wealthy Naples businessman reneged on his promise to pay $21,530 for six-foot-tall paintings of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump at a gala charity auction in Mar-A-Lago last month, the nonprofit sponsoring the auction, The Truth About Israel, filed suit.

Timothy Lane, 70-year-old CEO of the Hong Kong-based Everest Advisors, “is in breach of his agreement with The Truth About Israel to allow it to charge his American Express credit card for the purchase of the two paintings,” attorney Jonathan Bloom wrote in the lawsuit filed last week in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

» RELATED: Palm Beach Post coverage of President Trump

But Lane, who has served as a chief executive of various global companies during his decades-long career, insists he didn’t stiff the charity maliciously or because he had second-thoughts about the artwork. Rather, he said he became suspicious when the organization couldn’t give him its federal tax identification number so he could write off the purchase as a charitable deduction.

“I asked for the tax-exempt number for tax purposes,” Lane recently told the Palm Beach Daily News. “They couldn’t give it to me. Nobody seemed to know what it was or where it was, so I told them not to run the credit card until I had the number. I’m still waiting.”

»RELATED: The latest in Florida political news

Boca Raton businessman Steven Alembik, who organized the Feb. 25 benefit for the The Truth About Israel, insisted the group is a legitimate nonprofit. He scoffed at the claims Lane made in a Palm Beach police report.

On March 8, the Internal Revenue Service approved the organization’s tax-exempt status and assigned it a federal identification number, according to a letter Alembik sent The Palm Beach Post. It doesn’t matter that the number was issued after the gala, Alembik insisted.

“The tax ID has been provided to him,” Alembik said. “He can come up with all the excuses he wants. At the end of the day, he’s going to pay. He’s going to court and he’s going to lose.”

Bloom agreed. “It’s a contract,” the attorney said of the paperwork Lane signed.

Self-described “speed artist” Michael Israel, who did the Trump paintings and delighted the roughly 500 gala guests by producing other huge pieces of art in five or six frantic minutes, said he’s performed all over the world and never had a high bidder fail to pay up.

“It’s extremely rare for this to happen,” Israel said.

But it isn’t the first time a painting Israel did of Trump has created controversy. During the real estate tycoon’s 2016 presidential campaign, The Washington Post reported that Trump in 2007 paid $20,000 for a giant portrait Israel painted of him during another charity gala at Mar-A-Lago.

>> Read more trending news 

The purchase raised questions because records showed he paid for it and other personal items with funds from the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Tax experts said he may have violated laws that prohibit tax-exempt organizations from engaging in “self-dealing” by purchasing goods with contributions to the foundation. On tax returns, the newspaper reported that Trump’s accountants admitted as much by checking a box, admitting assets were transferred to what the IRS deems a “disqualified person.”

Alembik said Lane’s failure to pay for the Trump paintings at the recent gala hurt his efforts to raise money for The Truth About Israel, which was founded by Daniel Ayalon, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, and is dedicated to educating the world about the Jewish state. As part of his contract, the artist Israel doesn’t charge for his performance but instead shares in the money raised from auctioning off his artwork.

“If the guy reneges, the charity has to pay for it,” Alembik said. He declined to reveal how much was raised at the event, saying only: “Not enough.”

Although he built a successful data resource company, Alembik said he was new to party planning. “I’ve never thrown so much as a birthday party before,” he said.

But he said that after 22 people were killed in a ISIS-fueled suicide attack outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England in May, he wanted to do his part to stop terrorism. Longtime friends with Ayalon and familiar with the work of Ayalon’s group, Alembik said he hatched the idea of holding a benefit fundraiser in September to mark the 45th anniversary of the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

When those plans were delayed, he decided to hold it at Mar-A-Lago in rebuke of charities that were then planning to boycott the club to protest Trump’s controversial statements about a racially-charged rally in Charlottesville, Va., that left one woman dead.

Alembik said he was criticized for his selected venue. But he said he voted for Trump and still supports him. “This president has Israel’s back like no other president since Ronald Reagan,” he said.

Still, he didn’t anticipate such controversy. “This was strictly a goodwill thing — for Israel and for Danny,” he said.

Related video:

5 Things to Know About Mar-a-Lago


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Chaka Khan says flu is to blame for ‘difficult performances’

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 10:16 AM

A statement from Chaka Khan's rep says the singer has been battling the flu while performing at at festival in Florida. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
Paul Morigi/Getty Images
A statement from Chaka Khan's rep says the singer has been battling the flu while performing at at festival in Florida. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)(Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

Chaka Khan reportedly delivered a lackluster performance at the 13th annual Jazz in the Gardens show in Miami Gardens, Florida, and has issued a statement about it.

>> Read more trending news 

Ebony reported that Khan’s show had run into several issues and some fans believed the singer was inebriated.

On Twitter, one concert-goer said that fans started walking out of the Sunday performance.

According to a statement, the flu was to blame for the singer’s behavior. A representative for Khan told The Jasmine Brand the musician performed despite doctor’s orders to rest:

“Chaka Khan has been supporting her scheduled show dates as she has been battling the flu for a number of weeks despite the doctor’s orders to cancel these shows and rest. Unfortunately, Chaka not wanting to disappoint her fans has performed, while not totally 100%, and the media has been turning these difficult performances into something else.

“Chaka values her fans and supporters and would never do anything to jeopardize their support and love. Under doctor’s orders Chaka will be resting for the remainder of the week until her next performance engagement in Macon, GA, Saturday, March 24th.”

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