Hurricane-hit Florida makes slow moves toward recovery

Damaged house boats in the Florida Keys are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, on Monday. (AP)
Updated 12 September 2017

Hurricane-hit Florida makes slow moves toward recovery

MIAMI: Aid rushed in to hurricane-scarred Florida early Tuesday as officials pieced together the scope of Irma’s destructive path and displaced residents awaited word on hard-hit areas including the Florida Keys.
It was difficult to get detailed information on the condition of island chain where Irma first came ashore over the weekend because communication and access were all but cut off by the storm’s arrival as a Category 4 hurricane.
But after flying over the Keys Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott gave this assessment: “It’s devastating.”
Authorities were letting residents and business owners to return to Upper Keys islands close to the mainland Tuesday morning, but people from the Lower Keys faced a longer wait.
Elsewhere, areas such as Tampa Bay had braced for the worst but emerged with what appeared to be only modest damage. Early Tuesday, the remnants of Irma were blowing through Alabama and Mississippi after drenching Georgia.
A Navy aircraft carrier was due to anchor off Key West to help in search-and-rescue efforts. Drinking water supplies in the Keys were cut off, fuel was running low and all three hospitals in the island chain were shuttered. The governor described overturned mobile homes, washed-ashore boats and rampant flood damage.
Key West resident Laura Keeney waited in a Miami hotel until it was safe to return home, and she was anxious to hear more about her apartment complex. Her building manager told her there was flooding there, but further updates were hard to come by because power and cell phone service have been down on the island.
“They told me there is definitely water in the downstairs apartment, which is me,” said Keeney, who works as a concierge at the Hyatt in Key West.
A stunning 13 million Florida residents were without electricity — two-thirds of the third-largest state’s residents — as tropical heat returned across the peninsula following the storm. In a parting blow to the state, the storm caused record flooding in the Jacksonville area that forced dozens of rescues. It also caused flooding and outages in Georgia and South Carolina as it moved inland Monday.
Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with three in Georgia and one in South Carolina. At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean.
A tornado spun off by Irma was reported on the Georgia coast Monday , and firefighters inland had to rescue several people after trees fell on their homes. A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, and school was canceled in communities around the state. More than 1.5 million customers were without power Monday night in Georgia.
More than 180,000 people huddled in shelters in the Sunshine State and officials warned it could take weeks for electricity to be restored to everyone.
The governor said it was way too early to put a dollar estimate on the damage.
During its march up Florida’s west coast, Irma swamped homes, uprooted trees and flooded streets.
Around the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, where Irma rolled through early Monday, damage appeared modest. And the governor said damage on the southwest coast, including in Naples and Fort Myers, was not as bad as feared.
Still, Scott predicted that recovery could take a long time in many areas.
“I know for our entire state, especially the Keys, it’s going to be a long road,” he said.
He said the Navy dispatched the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to help with relief efforts.
The Keys are linked by 42 bridges that have to be checked for safety before motorists can be allowed in, officials said. The governor said the route also needs to be cleared of debris and sand, but should be usable fairly quickly.
In the Jacksonville area, close to the Georgia line, storm surge brought some of the worst flooding ever seen there, with at least 46 people pulled from swamped homes.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office warned residents along the St. Johns River to “Get out NOW” on Monday as floodwaters rose.
Paul Johnson and Shonda Brecheen spent Sunday night in a house they were remodeling in the San Marco neighborhood of Jacksonville after working late on a remodeling project. Jonhson woke up Monday morning, looked out the window and saw boats passing by where cars used to drive in the neighborhood near the river.
The managed to push his truck through standing water to a nearby parking lot to dry out, but he’s worried about damage to the swamped vehicle.
“I’m 32, I’ve lived here most of my life, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said.


Global civil unrest and violence in quarter of countries in 2019, expected to rise in 2020: Report

Updated 17 January 2020

Global civil unrest and violence in quarter of countries in 2019, expected to rise in 2020: Report

  • Identified Sudan as most troubled and “extreme risk” country in the world
  • According to the report, 2019’s biggest flashpoint locations were Hong Kong and Chile

LONDON: Nearly a quarter of the world’s nations witnessed a rise in unrest and violence in 2019 with the figure expected to rise in 2020, according to a study released earlier this week.

Verisk Maplecroft, a socio-economic and political analysis company, said in its index of global civil unrest that 47 of the world’s 195 countries were affected and that the number could hit 75 in the year ahead.

The UK-based consultancy firm identified Sudan as the most troubled and “extreme risk” country in the world, which had previously been held by Yemen.

According to the report, 2019’s biggest flashpoint locations were Hong Kong and Chile and neither is expected to be “at peace” for at least two years its researchers claim.

“The reasons for the surge in violent unrest are complex and diverse. In Hong Kong, protests erupted in June 2019 over a proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, However, the root cause of discontent has been the rollback of civil and political rights since 1997,” the firm said.

“In Chile, protests have been driven by income inequality and high living costs but were triggered by a seemingly trivial 30-peso (USD0.04) increase in the price of metro tickets,” it added.

Other countries now considered hotbeds unrest include Lebanon, Nigeria and Bolivia. Asia and Africa are disproportionately represented with countries such as Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe also coming under the “extreme risk” label.

Since authoritarian leader Omar Al-Bashir was overthrown in April, Sudan was gripped by protests, violence and killings as armed forces battled democracy supporters for control of the new government.

The index predicts that a further 28 countries examined will see a “deterioration in stability,” suggesting that nearly 40% of all countries will witness disruption and unrest at some point in 2020.

Ukraine, Guinea Bissau and Tajikistan are all expected to see the sharpest rises in unrest, but the report highlights growing concern in the world’s biggest and most powerful countries as well.


Countries identified include the hugely influential nations of Russia, China, Turkey, Brazil and Thailand.

Maplecroft says there will be increased pressure on global firms to exercise corporate responsibility, especially those in countries “rich in natural resources where mining and energy projects often need high levels of protection.”

“However, companies are at substantial danger of complicity if they employ state or private security forces that perpetrate violations,” the report added.