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CNN's Anderson Cooper calls out Donald Trump Jr., debunks hurricane meme

Atlanta-based CNN is often dismissed as "fake news" by President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Seeking to prove their point, some right-wing meme creators found a photo of Anderson Cooper in waist-deep floodwater, claiming he was exaggerating and staging shots during Hurricane Florence. 

>> On WSOCTV.com: Florence's aftermath: The latest updates from the Carolinas

But the photo was from 2008 during Hurricane Ike in Texas, and Cooper was demonstrating the dangers of shifting depths of floodwaters. 

Cooper decided to address the issue in a nine-minute segment on his show Monday in part because the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., used the meme as fodder to malign CNN on Twitter.

While many people on Twitter used the images and tied them to Florence, Trump Jr. merely implied that this was fakery and designed to make his dad “look bad.” 

Cooper took umbrage to that, shading Trump Jr. by showing photos of him being an “outdoorsman” killing exotic wildlife but presuming he wasn’t in North Carolina helping in rescue efforts. 

>> Read more trending news 

Cooper then showed the 10-year-old video of himself in waist-deep water in a flooded area of Bridge City, Texas. He was demonstrating the various depths of water in a very small area. At one point, he even made fun of himself for doing this, but added that he didn’t want to be on the dry part of the road interfering with rescue operations. Cooper said he also wanted to show that water can go deep very quickly even just a few feet off a road, and many people die in hurricanes via drowning.

Cooper noted that his camera crew has to shoot on dry spots to keep the equipment from getting wet. And the tech person in the photo? He died last year, Cooper said. 

Hurricane Florence aftermath: 1-year-old dies after vehicle flooded by rising waters

Officials on Monday morning recovered the body of a 1-year-old boy who was swept away by floodwaters during the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

>> Read more trending news 

Update 10:30 a.m. EDT Sept. 17: Sheriff’s deputies in Union County confirmed in a Facebook post Monday morning that searchers had found the body of Kaiden Lee-Welch.

“Our thoughts and prayers (are with) the little boy’s family and all the search team members and law enforcement officers who helped in this matter,” deputies said. “Very sad situation.”

>> Watch the news report here

Original report: According to WSOC-TV, emergency personnel in Union County, North Carolina, responded Sunday night to a vehicle trapped in flooded water on Highway 218 at Richardson Creek near New Salem. An adult was rescued and taken to a hospital, but a child was missing, officials said.

>> On WSOCTV.com: Tracking Florence: Live updates from the Carolinas

The Union County Sheriff's Office identified the child as Kaiden Lee Welch in a Facebook post Monday morning.

>> See the Facebook post here

"Detectives believe the child and his mother were traveling east on N.C. 218 going toward Wadesboro," the post said. "The mother drove around the barricades on N.C. 218 and continued traveling east until her vehicle encountered rushing water flowing across the road. Her vehicle left the roadway and came to rest amongst a group of trees. She managed to free herself and Kaiden, who was in a car seat, but lost her grip on him in the rushing water."

The post said search and rescue teams looked for Kaiden for several hours Sunday night but were unable to find him.

Hurricane Florence aftermath: 6 scary, infectious illnesses you can catch from floodwater

Hurricanes can leave behind tons of damage, including flooding. But did you know that treading through the wrong kind of water can cause illnesses or even death?

>> On WSOCTV.com: Tracking Florence: Live updates from the Carolinas

Floodwaters and standing water are often contaminated, posing several risks, such as infectious diseases, chemical hazards and injuries.

>> PHOTOS: Deadly Florence soaks the Carolinas

Here are six sicknesses you should beware of in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence:

Diarrheal diseases

Drinking or eating anything that has come in contact with floodwaters can lead to cryptosporidiosis, E. coli or giardiasis. While cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are brought on by parasites, E. coli is caused by bacteria.

>> Hurricane Florence: Here’s how you can help

Symptoms from each include diarrhea, gas, nausea and vomiting. Cryptosporidiosis, however, can even be fatal for those with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS or cancer. 

Wound infections

Open wounds and rashes that are exposed to floodwater can cause tetanus or Vibrio vulnificus. Tetanus is a bacterial infection, and it can enter the body through breaks in the skin like a cut.

>> 10 tips to stay safe when returning home after a natural disaster

Vibrio vulnificus, another bacteria, can be contracted the same way. Many people become infected by consuming undercooked shellfish or exposing an injury to brackish or salt water.

Other illnesses 

People affected by flooded areas can also get trench foot. It occurs when your feet are wet for long periods of time. It can cause pain, swelling and numbness.

>> Read more trending news 

You should also be aware of chemical hazards from materials that may have spilled into the water. And be cautious of electrical hazards, since there are puddles that may be electrified due to fallen power lines.

Curious about other diseases you can catch? Take a look at the full list at CDC’s official website

Disaster declared in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastates island

President Donald Trump on Thursday declared a federal disaster in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria brought pounding rain and punishing winds to the island, knocking out power and causing widespread flooding and landslides.

>> Read more trending news

The declaration allows for federal resources to be used for Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts.

The island is reeling after Maria made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane. With maximum sustained winds measured at 155 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, Maria was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years.

"Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this," Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press.

Videos posted on social media showed swift floodwaters and powerful winds brought to Puerto Rico by Maria.

Maria knocked out power to the entire island and its 3.4 million residents, officials said Wednesday.

Ricardo Ramos, CEO of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, told CNN that it could be as long as six months before power is restored.

“The system has been basically destroyed,” he said.

Maria continued to churn over the Atlantic Ocean as a major Category 3 hurricane on Thursday afternoon with maximum sustained winds measured at 115 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in an 11 a.m. advisory. Officials warned that the storm, which is expected to turn to the north early Friday, could still strengthen over the next day or two.

U.S. Rep. calls Texas 'no' votes on Harvey relief 'unconscionable'

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, on Monday described as “unconscionable” the vote last week of four Republican colleagues from Texas against a $15.25 billion initial aid package to help state residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

>> Read more trending news

“I don’t want to judge them,” McCaul said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I judge myself and my conscience and when I have people dying and hurting in my home state, it was my duty and my moral obligation to help them, and I felt that that vote was a vote of conscience to help people in my state and also now in Florida.”

“I think that’s what Americans do and I think it’s unconscionable to vote against something like that,” McCaul said.

The four Texans — Reps. Joe Barton, Jeb Hensarling, Sam Johnson and Mac Thornberry — were among 90 Republicans who voted against the House’s concurrence with the Senate’s larger relief package Friday. None of the four represents districts affected by Harvey.

Republican opponents complained that the aid was linked to a three-month lifting of the debt ceiling.

“I think having to raise the debt ceiling was the issue, and the fact is that Mick Mulvaney is the director of OMB and he was a Freedom Caucus guy when he served with us, and he told us point blank that you could not appropriate disaster relief if you didn’t raise the debt ceiling, so we were stuck with that choice,” McCaul said. “What do you (do) with that choice? Just stand on principle and vote ‘no?’ And I question that principle. Or do you vote to help people back in your home state who are hurting really badly?”

Asked if he expected a competition with Florida for federal disaster help because of Hurricane Irma, McCaul said, “I don’t think you’re going to see some Texas vs. Florida thing. This is going to be an American issue and, if anything, it will bring the Texas and Florida delegations together for that funding.”

Community still rebuilding after Hurricane Matthew braces for Irma

The threat of Hurricane Irma is weighing heavily on the minds of people living in St. Johns County, Florida, 11 months after Hurricane Matthew slammed the shore of Vilano Beach.

“We lost everything from basically 4 feet down in the house,” Martha Nourse said.

>> Read more trending news

Nourse, her husband and their two dogs have been living in a trailer parked in front of their home since Hurricane Matthew left the house uninhabitable.

“We had 2 1/2 of water in the house,” she said. “We not only had flood damage, but we had wind damage on the roof.”

Time-lapse video from after Hurricane Matthew hit the area shows water about 9 or 10 feet deep making its way into dozens of Vilano Beach homes.

Tammy Tombroff, who lives across the street from Nourse, said she just moved back into her home.

“Piece by piece, I’m putting this back together,” she said. “I’ve only just gotten furniture like, last week.”

Down the road, Jeff Troxell is reminded daily of Hurricane Matthew’s damage. His family has left marks on the home’s door that show how high the water got during the storm.

“It was 27 1/4 inches,” he said, pointing to the door. “That’s how much water we had in the house. I’m not lazy. That’s just the reminder.”

Other neighbors said they can’t help but worry. 

“It is pretty scary,” Tombroff said. “Just now getting it back together, and what would that be like -- I can’t imagine.”

Nourse said she already has three hotel rooms booked.

“Anxiety levels are definitely high,” Nourse said.

Other neighbors said that they are buying generators and other supplies.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Missing woman was trapped in elevator as Harvey flooded Houston, sister says

Authorities in Houston are searching for a woman who was last heard from Sunday after she became trapped in an elevator as floodwaters inundated the city, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Jill Renick, 48, checked into the Omni Houston Hotel with her dog Saturday before the city flooded, KHOU reported. She worked as the spa director for the hotel, at Riverway and South Post Oak Lane, according to KPRC.

“She couldn’t walk away,” Pam Eslinger, Renick’s sister, told KHOU. “The place was flooded. At final point there, it was 20 feet underwater in the lobby.”

She told the news station her sister’s last known conversation was with one of her co-workers, “saying, ‘I’m in an elevator. The water is rushing in. Please help me.’”

“(I) don’t know if she got out,” Eslinger told KHOU. “My thought is that she probably didn’t.”

Authorities have found Renick’s dog and car at the Omni Hotel, according to the Houston Chronicle, but there has been no sign of Renick.

"The unknown is absolutely killing us right now," Renick’s nephew, Austin Miller, told the Chronicle. "I haven't stopped thinking about it."

Authorities told KHOU that they were investigating reports of a body in the basement, although it wasn’t clear whether the body was Renick’s. Gary Norman, spokesman for Houston’s Office of Emergency Management, told the Chronicle on Wednesday that search efforts were hampered by the depth of the floodwater in the hotel, which was also contaminated with oil and gas.

“Of course, I’m hoping she’s still alive. I’m hoping that we find her soon,” Eslinger told KHOU. “As every minute ticks by, I’m still trying to keep the faith. I just want her back.”

In a statement released to KPRC, an Omni Hotel representative said the company’s employees are working with authorities in an effort to find Renick.

“We pray our associate will be located safe and unharmed,” the statement said. “In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to our associate’s family during this difficult time.”

More than 30 people have been killed as a result of Harvey, which made landfall on the coast of Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane.

Man dies after being electrocuted in Houston floodwaters, family says

A 25-year-old man died Tuesday when he was electrocuted by a live wire hidden below floodwaters in Houston while trying to rescue his sister’s pet cat, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Family members said Andrew Pasek, 25, went to a home in the Bear Creek 1 subdivision with a friend on Tuesday afternoon to get his sister’s cat, KTRK reported. Pasek’s sister and her fiance had no carrier for the cat, and so the animal was left behind when the area was evacuated, the Houston Chronicle reported.

“When it became clear they could be out of their home for weeks, Pasek - an animal lover with a habit of rescuing stray dogs and cats - went back with a friend around 2 p.m. Tuesday to pick up their cat,” according to the Chronicle. “He drove his Jeep and tried to walk the rest of the way to his sister's house due to the floodwaters, but was electrocuted on the walk over.”

Pasek’s sister, identified only as Alyssa, told KPRC the situation was “a terrible mistake” and an “accident that shouldn’t have happened.”

“They were only in about knee-deep water and walking through the neighbors' yards because the water was more shallow,” she told the news station. “He got too close to an electrical wire that was still running hot.”

Pasek’s mother, Jodell Pasek, told KPRC that he warned his friend away from the area when he realized what was happening.

“He told (his friend) Sean, ‘I’m dying. Go away. Don’t help me,’” she told the news station. “He didn’t want him to get electrified, too.”

Jodell Pasek told KTRK that she lost her eldest son, identified by KPRC as E.J. Donnelley, years earlier in a car accident.

“I'll be honest with you, I don't know what I'm going to do,” she told KTRK. “I don't have them at home to take care of anymore, but I have to go on with my life."

More than 30 people have died in the days since Harvey churned into Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm, which the National Weather Service had categorized as a tropical depression as of Thursday morning, continued to dump rain across parts of the southeast.

Officers find van with family of 6 drowned in Harvey floodwaters

Update Aug. 30: Authorities have found a white van containing the bodies of six family members after their vehicle was caught in floodwaters.

Update 4:50 p.m. Aug. 28: The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday afternoon that it was not immediately able to confirm a report that a family of six was swept away by floodwaters and killed on Sunday.

Houston police Chief Art Acevedo earlier told The Associated Press that he had no information on the reported drowning, but he told the wire service that he is "really worried about how many bodies we're going to find" from Harvey's devastating flooding.

Original report: Family members told a Texas news station that six of their family members drowned Sunday afternoon as they tried to escape from floodwaters brought about by Hurricane Harvey.

>> Read more trending news

Three members of the unidentified family told KHOU that four children were in a van with their great-grandparents and great-uncle Sunday when it was swept up by the current of flood waters as the van crossed a bridge in Greens Bayou.

The news station reported that the van’s driver, the children’s great-uncle, was able to escape and cling onto a tree branch. He told the trapped children to escape from the van’s back door, but they were not able to, according to KHOU.

The news station said the victims were an 81-year-old woman, her 84-year-old husband, a 16-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy, an 8-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl.

Authorities did not immediately verify the report, and no bodies have been recovered.

Houston police Chief Art Acevedo told The Associated Press that he had no information on the reported drowning, but he told the wire service that he is "really worried about how many bodies we're going to find" from Harvey's devastating flooding.

On Monday alone, authorities said they rescued hundreds of people from floodwaters in the Houston area.

Southeast Texas was battered by strong winds and torrential rains starting on Friday, when then-Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Gulf Coast. It was downgraded to a tropical storm Saturday, but continued to dump rain over the area.

Houston police Sgt. Steve Perez drowns in Harvey floodwaters

A Houston police officer drowned Sunday morning when he was trapped by floodwaters brought to the region by Harvey, city officials confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

>> Read more trending news

Officials recovered the body of Sgt. Steve Perez, a 34-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, on Tuesday morning.

"He was a sweet, gentle public servant," police Chief Art Acevedo said Tuesday at an emotional news conference. "He wasn't just taken from the Houston Police Department ... he was taken from the people of Houston."

Acevedo said Perez left his home for work at 4 a.m. Sunday as heavy rain fell in Houston. Perez was assigned to the city's traffic enforcement division, but he was unable to find a path to the station. During a roll call on Monday, his colleagues realized that Perez was missing from work. Authorities called his wife, who said she had not seen her husband since 4 a.m. the previous day.

"He was seeking to serve this city and all those who would come to our city," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

Authorities found his vehicle on Monday night. The Houston Chronicle, the first organization to report on Perez’s death, reported that his patrol car was found at Interstate 45 and the Hardy Toll road.

"It was too treacherous to go under (into the floodwaters) and look for him," Acevedo said, his voice cracking with emotion. He said officers kept watch over the area overnight. On Tuesday morning, a dive team was able to recover his body.

"In the darkness, Sgt. Perez drove under an underpass and drove into the water," Acevedo said.

"He was trying different routes, and took a wrong turn," an unidentified official told the Chronicle earlier Tuesday.

More than a dozen people have died in the days since Harvey slammed into the Texas coast on Friday, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Harvey made landfall in Rockport as a Category 4 hurricane with winds topping 130 mph. It was downgraded Saturday to a tropical storm.

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